Alcohol and Aging

Know the Facts

Many of us enjoy a drink when socializing, relaxing, or celebrating. But did you know that as we get older, our bodies process alcohol more slowly, and we become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol?

The Effect of Alcohol on Aging Bodies

With age, we tend to lose lean body mass, resulting in more body fat and less water in the body to dilute alcohol. This means that the same amount of alcohol will produce higher blood alcohol content in an older person and make him or her more impaired than in a younger adult of the same weight.

Because older bodies process alcohol less effectively, drinking as we get older also puts an extra burden on the liver. For more information, please read the Canadian Liver Foundation's:

Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

What is a safe amount for seniors to drink? The amount that’s safe for you to drink may vary depending on your age, gender, ethnicity, weight, body fat, and health status.

If you’re an older adult and you choose to drink alcohol, Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (endorsed by the Centre for Addictions Research of BC) advise you to drink below limits suggested for adults in general:

  • per week = fewer than 10 drinks for women and 15 for men;
  • on any one occasion = fewer than 3 drinks for women and 4 for men.

For more details about the guidelines, go to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse's:

To determine whether your drinking puts you at risk, use the Centre for Addictions Research of BC's:

Alcohol and Medications

Always avoid alcohol when taking medication, or check with your doctor or pharmacist first.

Getting Help

If you or a friend need help with alcohol use or abuse, talk to your doctor or call one of the following helplines.

Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts

The B.C. Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service is confidential, multilingual, free, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Toll-free at 1-800-663-1441, or 2-1-1 in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet regional districts
  • Text: 604-836-6381
  • For deaf and hearing-impaired assistance (TTY), call 604-875-0885
  • Website:
  • Email:

Everywhere in B.C.

If you want to talk to someone about alcohol and your health, nutrition, or medication use, please call the HealthLink BC health information line by dialling 8-1-1.

Or find mental health and substance use tools and information in eleven different languages at: