Pauline started drinking alcohol harmfully after she retired.

The 61-year-old, from Glasgow, said: “My issues didn’t start till I was in my 50s and I took early retirement from work.

"I worked in education. I had worked every day since I was 16 and then there was… nothing.

“The first year of retirement was fine, I went on holiday, decorated my house. But after that… nothing.

"My youngest daughter was still at school so I was getting up in the morning and getting her ready.

"My house was spotless, my washing was done, but that only took a couple of hours every day.

"So I started drinking.”

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Increased alcohol use can be triggered by changes to life circumstances.

As people get older, things like retirement or children leaving home can lead to heavier drinking.

The figures published by National Records of Scotland show that alcohol-specific mortality rates are highest in the 65 to 69 age group, at 58.9 deaths per 100,000 compared to 31 per 100,000 among Scots aged 45 to 49. 

The Herald: The mortality rate for alcohol-specific deaths is highest in the 65-74 age group, and has climbed notably among over-75sThe mortality rate for alcohol-specific deaths is highest in the 65-74 age group, and has climbed notably among over-75s (Image: NRS)

As her drinking spiralled out of control, Pauline ended up in hospital four times in the space of three months for treatment.

Her life was starting to unravel. Following her fourth admission to hospital, Pauline realised it was time to make a change and she turned to her GP. 

One of the obstacles she encountered, however, was a sense that services did not think she had a problem "because I had a nice house and money in the bank". 

She was eventually supported to stop using alcohol through the charity, With You, which helps around 12,000 people a year in Scotland who are struggling with alcohol, drugs or mental health difficulties. 

READ MORE: Scots still drinking too much as drop in alcohol intake stalls 

Through the charity's Drink Wise Age Well programme, Pauline met with people her own age and found ways of coping with a life without alcohol.

She now works at With You as a receptionist and a volunteer, helping to run a support group for people over 50 who are experiencing alcohol issues.

The charity advises drinkers concerned about their intake to keep an alcohol diary and to adopt "realistic goals" initially, such as cutting down or having more alcohol-free days.

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Belinda Phipps, chief executive at With You, said: “More than half of the people we support through our services across Scotland have come to us for help to reduce or stop their drinking.

"Often, they tell us that they feel like ‘frauds’ because they don’t consider their problems to be as serious as those of people using drugs.

"But, in 2022, 1,276 people died because of alcohol - and this ongoing increase is a pattern we have seen for more than 10 years."