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Alcohol use often declines in older age but older people may be at risk of developing problem drinking – alcohol abuse or dependency – often triggered by significant life events such as loss of a loved one, loneliness, retirement, insomnia, illness or pain.

Older people are less tolerant to the effects of alcohol.  As a result of aging, alcohol is not broken down by the body as efficiently.  The ratio of body water to fat tends to fall and alcohol has a faster effect on the brain, meaning it takes less alcohol to become drunk and increases the risk of falls and injury.

Older people who drink alcohol and drive are at much higher risk of traffic accidents than those who do not drink. Alcohol interacts with many common prescription medicines and may be a reason for many older people to avoid or restrict their alcohol use.

Go to the Information for older people section for alcohol advice specific to older people and their whānau.