Alcohol Use Disorder

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Cannabis Use Disorder

Opioid Use Disorder

Alcohol Use Disorder Among Older Adults

Alcohol is the most commonly used substance across all age groups. It is important to know that alcohol affects older adults differently. Evidence is becoming clear that any alcohol consumption has a level of risk. As you age, drinking less is better.

On this page, you will find important information on alcohol use in older adults as well as strategies to support drinking less or not at all. There are also resources for health professionals on the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of alcohol use disorder.

*Update Notification:

In 2023, The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) published updated low risk drinking guidance for Canadians incorporating new evidence on cancer and cardiovascular disease risk. The updated guidance redefines the category of low risk drinking to be 2 standard drinks or less per week with no more than 1 standard drink per instance. For more information on Canada’s guidance on alcohol and health, please visit the Canadian Centre of Substance Use and Addiction website.

For older adults, CCSMH recommends reducing alcohol use whenever possible and abstinence considered, especially if there is:

  • A personal or family history of alcohol use disorder
  • An existing chronic medical condition, cognitive impairment, mental illness, or substance use disorder
  • A possibility of harmful interaction with current medication
  • Increased frailty
  • A tendency to drink to cope with life’s challenges

Help us improve our resources: 

CCSMH aims to promote older adults’ mental health by connecting people, ideas and resources. Please take a few moments to tell us about yourself and your experience with our resources by participating in this survey.

Information and Resources for Older Adults and Care Partners

Download or print our brochure about older adults and alcohol use for information about the impacts of alcohol on health and tips for drinking less.

Download or print our mocktail recipe cards and enjoy our zero proof drink recipes at home or your next social gathering.

Information and Resources for Health Care Professionals:

Download and read our Canadian Guidelines on Alcohol Use Disorder Among Older Adults.

Watch the following National ECHO webinar with Johnathan Bertram on older adults and substance use disorder, including alcohol use disorder.

Jonathan Bertram, MD, CCFP, is an addiction medicine physician at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health with a special interest in First Nations outreach, and older adults in the context of pain and addictions treatment. He is a consultant physician on geriatric addictions management to Community Outreach Programs in Addictions (COPA), and runs a community practice in pain, family medicine and addictions in Bowmanville, Ontario.