Mar 25

Older Adults and Alcohol Abuse

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a national survey in 2008 found that about 40 percent of adults ages 64 and older consume alcohol. Older adults can experience a variety of problems from drinking alcohol, especially those who take certain medications, have health problems, and drink heavily.

While some older adults may be able to tolerate a drink or two a day, others may not be as fortunate. As we age, alcohol affects us more severely than when we were younger. As we get older, there is a decrease in the amount of water in the body. This means that when we consume alcohol at an older age, there is less water in the body to dilute the alcohol that is consumed. This causes older adults to have a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than younger people after consuming the same amount of alcohol.

Senior man sleeping after drinking too much alcohol ** Note: Visible grain at 100%, best at smaller sizes

In addition, older adults tend to have a variety of health problems. Drinking alcohol tends to increase the severity of these health issues.

Some of these conditions are:

  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Liver Problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Memory Problems
  • Mood Disorders

Alcohol can also have deadly effects when combined with prescription and over-the-counter medications.

Some of these medications include:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen
  • Cough Syrup
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Pain Medication
  • Anxiety or Depression Medicine



The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggests that adults who are over 65 years old and who do not take medications should not have more than 3 drinks on a given day or 7 drinks per week. Drinking more than these amounts can put people at risk of serious alcohol problems. If you do have a health problem or take certain medications you may need to drink less, or not at all.