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Aging Lowers the Body’s Tolerance to Alcohol

NIH Senior Health, USA has released a report specifically tailored to the topic of alcohol use among older adults (65+). The report explains the health risks involved  such as precautions for people who shouldn’t drink while taking certain prescription medications. The report also includes information on the increase risk of substance abuse and how rehabilitation help can be found for those who develop a problem.

The report revealed that some older adults whose drinking habits have remained consistent over the years, even decades, may find that they develop problems as they get older. This is due to the fact that aging lowers the body’s tolerance for alcohol. Because of this, Dr. Kenneth Warren, acting director of NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says, “older adults may experience the effects of alcohol, such as slurred speech or lack of coordination, more quickly than when they were younger.”

This is because as the human body gets older its ability to metabolize or break down alcohol becomes slower. Thus it stays in the body longer than it does a younger human body. As a result, this increases an older adult’s sensitivity to the effects of alcohol. For example a senior male of the same weight as a younger male will have a higher percentage of alcohol in his blood after they both consume a glass of wine. One explanation for this, is that the amount of water in the body lowers as we age.

Because an older adult may be more sensitive to the effects of drinking, their risk for alcohol abuse also increases. Alcohol use can also become problematic for older adults if they are taking certain prescription medications or have certain existing health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension/high blood pressure, liver problems, etc, which alcohol use can exacerbate.

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