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Getting Help for Alcohol Problems

Are you one of those people who should stop drinking due to health problems or medicines you need to take? If you want to stop drinking, there is help.

Start by talking to a healthcare professional like your doctor. He or she may be able to give you advice about treatment. Your local health department or social services agencies may also be helpful. Here are some things you can try:Older man discussing alcohol problems with his therapist

  • Ask your doctor about medicines that might help.
  • Talk to a trained counselor who knows about alcohol problems in older people.
  • Find a support group for older people with alcohol problems.
  • Choose individual, family, or group therapy, depending on what works for you.
  • Check out a 12-step program, like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), that offers support and programs for people who want to stop drinking.

Many older adults decide to quit drinking in later life. You can do it, too. There are many things you can do to cut back or stop drinking. You can:

  • Count how many ounces of alcohol you are getting in each drink.
  • Keep track of the number of drinks you have each day.
  • Decide how many days a week you want to drink. Plan some days that are free of alcohol.
  • Pace yourself when you drink. Don't have more than one alcoholic drink in an hour. In place of alcohol, drink water, juice, or soda.
  • Make sure to eat when drinking. Alcohol will enter your system more slowly if you eat some food.
  • Remove alcohol from your home.
  • Ask for support from your family and advice from your healthcare provider. Get the help you need to quit.

Take time to plan ahead. Here are some things you can do:

  • Develop interests that don't involve alcohol.
  • Avoid people, places, and times of day that may trigger your drinking.
  • Avoid drinking when you are angry or upset or if you've had a bad day.
  • Plan what you will do if you have an urge to drink.
  • Learn to say "no, thanks" when you're offered an alcoholic drink.
  • Remember to stay healthy for the fun things in life—birth of a grandchild, a long hoped for trip, or a holiday party.

No one wants to get hurt or to hurt others as the result of too much alcohol. Yet, it can happen if you drink more than you should. Be aware of how your body changes as you age. Be alert to these changes, adjust how much alcohol you can safely drink, and continue to enjoy life to the fullest.

Learn more about available types of alcohol treatment.

For More Information About Help for Alcohol Problems

Alcoholics Anonymous

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism                                                                         
National Institutes of Health

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
800-487-4889 (TTY)

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.