Why can’t I drink like I used to? That was fun.

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February 26, 2019 - 10:33 AM

DEAR DR. ROACH: Why does drinking one small glass of wine make me spacey and sleepy now that I’m over 55? What physical change has occurred in my body, and should I be concerned about that as regards other functional changes that might not be as obvious? — C.C.

 

ANSWER: Your ability to metabolize alcohol generally decreases as you get older. This means the same amount of alcohol will have a greater effect, assuming you are the same size you used to be. The liver is also responsible for getting rid of medications and their metabolic byproducts, so sometimes doses of medicines need to be adjusted for people as they get older (55 isn’t old, but it’s not 20). This effect becomes more prominent in a person’s 70s and 80s. A wise person will adjust their dose of alcohol accordingly.

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