Aging and Alcohol Use and Abuse (cont.)

Not everyone who drinks regularly has a drinking problem, and not all problem drinkers drink every day. You might want to get help if you or a loved one:

  • Drink to calm your nerves, forget your worries, or reduce depression.
  • Gulp down drinks.
  • Frequently have more than one drink a day. (A standard drink is one 12-ounce bottle or can of beer or a wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.)
  • Lie about or try to hide drinking habits.
  • Hurt yourself, or someone else, while drinking.
  • Need more alcohol to get high.
  • Feel irritable, resentful, or unreasonable when not drinking.
  • Have medical, social, or financial worries caused by drinking.

Getting Help

Studies show that older problem drinkers are as able to benefit from treatment as are younger alcohol abusers. To get help, talk to your doctor. He or she can give you advice about your health, drinking, and treatment options. Your local health department or social services agencies can also help.

There are many types of treatments available. Some, such as 12-step help programs, have been around a long time. Others include getting alcohol out of the body (detoxification); taking prescription medicines to help prevent a return to drinking once you have stopped; and individual and/or group counseling. Newer programs teach people with drinking problems to learn which situations or feelings trigger the urge to drink as well as ways to cope without alcohol. Because the support of family members is important, many programs also counsel married couples and family members as part of the treatment process. Programs may also link individuals with important community resources.

Scientists continue to study alcohol's effects on people and to look for new ways to treat alcoholism. This research will increase the chance for recovery and improve the lives of problem drinkers.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health, recommends that people over age 65 who choose to drink have no more than one drink a day. Drinking at this level usually is not associated with health risks.

For More Information

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
5635 Fishers Lane MSC 9304
Bethesda, MD 20892-9304 301-443-3860
www.niaaa.nih.gov

For more information on health and aging, contact:

National Institute on Aging Information Center
P.O. Box 8057 Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
800-222-2225 (toll-free)
800-222-4225 (TTY toll-free)

To order publications (in English or Spanish) or sign up for regular email alerts, visit: www.niapublications.org.

For additional information, please visit the Senior Health Center.

Source: National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging


Last Editorial Review: 3/20/2006