Alcohol and medication use and misuse among older adults is one of the fastest growing health problems facing our country. Most people over 65 don’t use illegal drugs. However, almost one in five older adults misuse alcohol and prescription drugs. The number of older adults with alcohol and drug problems will rise as more of us age. Sadly, this problem is largely unnoticed and under treated.
Misuse of alcohol and medications is worse for older adults than younger adults. Because of the way aging changes the body, any alcohol use can present risks. Additionally, older adults have more chronic diseases and therefore take more prescription medicines. Some people take up to 10 different medicines a day. It is not uncommon to make mistakes in how much medicine to take or how often to take it. Using alcohol with certain medications can cause problems.