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Alcohol-Medicine Interactions

Take this Quick Quiz: Alcohol and Medications

1) Older people are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects than younger people.

2) Which of these is considered to be one alcoholic drink?

  1. 12 ounces of regular beer
  2. 5 ounces of wine
  3. 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits
  4. none of the above
  5. all of the above

3) An older adult can safely have three alcoholic drinks each day, totaling 21 per week.

4) Drinking alcohol and/or mixing medications with alcohol can put older adults at higher risk of falls and fractures.

5) Drinking alcohol and taking medications for which of the following conditions can make the condition worse?

  1. high blood pressure
  2. diabetes
  3. gout
  4. heart failure
  5. all of the above


  1. True. One reason that older adults are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects is that the amount of water in the body drops with age. As a result, older adults will have a higher percentage of alcohol in their blood than younger people after drinking the same amount of alcohol.
  2. All of the above. A “standard” drink contains about 0.6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol. A single drink is one 5-ounce glass of wine. It also can be one 12-ounce can or bottle of regular beer, ale, or wine cooler; one 8- or 9-ounce can or bottle of malt liquor; or one 1.5-ounce shot glass of 80-proof distilled spirits such as whiskey, gin, vodka, or rum.
  3. False. In general, to be at low risk for alcohol use disorder, healthy men and women over age 65 can have three drinks a single day, but should not exceed a total of seven drinks in a week. Drinking more than these amounts puts people at risk of serious alcohol problems. However, people can still have problems within these limits. Depending on their health and how alcohol affects them, older adults may need to drink less than these limits or not at all.
  4. True. Alcohol, like some medicines, can make you sleepy, drowsy, or lightheaded. Drinking even small amounts of alcohol while taking medicines can intensify these effects. In older adults, this can lead to balance problems and falls, which can result in hip or arm fractures and other injuries. Older people have thinner bones than younger people, so their bones break more easily. Studies show that the rate of hip fractures in older adults increases with alcohol use.
  5. All of the above. Drinking alcohol and taking medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, gout, and heart failure can make those conditions worse.
Read More "Alcohol-Medicine Interactions" Articles

Alcohol, Medicines, and Aging / Improper Medication Use Rising Among Older Adults / Take this Quick Quiz: Alcohol and Medications

Summer 2016 Issue: Volume 11 Number 2 Page 7