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Why Are Older Drinkers More Sensitive to the Effects of Alcohol?

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Updated July 21, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Stressed Senior Lady

The same amount of alcohol can affect you differently as you grow older.

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Question: Why Are Older Drinkers More Sensitive to the Effects of Alcohol?
Answer: As you get older one of the things that changes is your metabolism. Consequently, your body metabolizes alcohol slower than it did when you were younger. Therefore, alcohol remains in your system longer than it used to, affecting you longer.

Also as you age, the amount of water in your body decreases. This means there is not as much water in your system to dilute any alcohol that you drink. Therefore, the same amount of alcohol that you used to drink produces a higher percentage of alcohol in your system, increasing the effects of the alcohol.

Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. "Alcohol Use and Older Adults." August 2010.

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