The Older Adult & Hazardous Drinking

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New evidence has emerged showing that up to 40% of adults aged 50 and over are hazardous drinkers! This statistic increases to almost 50% for men in this age group.

This is worrying due to two main reasons: firstly, as we age, our bodies can’t process alcohol as well as they used to, meaning we get drunk faster and feel the effects more. Secondly, the older we get, the more likely we are to have developed mental health conditions that alcohol exacerbates and use medication that alcohol can interfere with.

So what makes us hazardous drinkers? Binge drinking is the main player that comes to mind, which is defined as consuming six or more standard drinks in one sitting. Keep in mind this number is standard drinks, not ‘drinks’. A single can of full strength beer can be 1.5 standard drinks, whereas an average restaurant serving of wine is up to 1.8 standard drinks. Very frequent drinking (five or more times per week) or binge drinking are both causes for concern and can wreck havoc on our health.

Alcohol consumption in the 50+ age group is much less commonly spoken about than other age groups, such as the teenage years, however, don’t be afraid to chat to mum or dad about their alcohol consumption if you feel it may be damaging their health. Alternate alcoholic drinks with nonalcoholic drinks such as sparkling water or juice, or sign up together for an alcohol-free week or month and be each other’s support during the alcohol-free period. If a concern, speak to your GP about screening for alcohol use.

Bradford Clinic