Older Adults and Alcohol (NIAAA)

Read this booklet to learn about alcohol and aging. Use it to start talking about how drinking may be affecting your life. Share this booklet with your friends and family. Family support can often make a big difference.

As people age, they may become more sensitive to alcohol’s effects. The same amount of alcohol can have a greater effect on an older person than on someone who is younger. Over time, someone whose drinking habits haven’t changed may find she or he has a problem.

Heavy drinking can make some health problems worse. It is important to talk to your doctor if you have problems like high blood sugar (diabetes). Heavy drinking can also cause health problems such as weak bones (osteoporosis).

Many prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal remedies can be dangerous or even deadly when mixed with alcohol. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can safely drink alcohol. Read the labels on all of your medicines. Some labels say, “Do not use with alcohol.”

Some people can cut back on their drinking. Some people need to stop drinking altogether. Making a change in your drinking habits can be hard. Don’t give up! If you do not reach your goal the first time, try again. Ask your family and friends for help. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble quitting. Get the help you need.

A publication from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


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