Health & Wellbeing Service - Manchester

Safer drinking in later life


To download a copy of our alcohol advice leaflet for older adults click on the link below....

Did you know that as you get older your tolerance to alcohol decreases and you become more sensitive to its effects? This is because of a number of reasons:

  • Having less water inside our body tissues and more fat
  • Losing muscle
  • Breaking down alcohol more slowly
  • Mixing medication or medicines more frequently

The changes that take place inside the body as we get older mean that the effects of alcohol are stronger compared to when we were younger. It can also take longer to recover from the night before.

If you would like some extra support to set goals or keep on track, or if you have physical withdrawal symptoms (like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have a first drink of the day), telephone the Community Alcohol Team for more advice before stopping completely on 0161 234 5055 (Monday-Friday, 9am-4.30pm)

Alcohol IBA for Older Adults


Many older people do not disclose information about their drinking or seek early advice from health and social care professionals because of increased perceptions of shame and embarrassment. Older adults may also under-report their drinking habits due to a lack of awareness of units of alcohol or not considering certain drinks to ‘count’ as part of their overall alcohol consumption (i.e. tonic wines or alcohol added to hot drinks).

Alcohol misuse among older people is often described as a hidden problem due to a number of barriers related to ageism, stereotyping, and blaming common health problems on other causes when alcohol may be to blame i.e. falls, accidents, memory problems, anxiety, depression, insomnia, confusion and self-neglect. These barriers have been found to prevent early intervention and access to treatment despite studies showing that routine alcohol identification and brief interventions with late-onset drinkers is beneficial.


  • Late-onset alcohol misuse describes patterns of drinking where older adults have had successful periods of lower-risk drinking or abstinence throughout their life course but increase their alcohol use in response to age-specific factors in later life.
  • Early-onset alcohol misuse describes older adults who have not had many successful periods of lower-risk drinking or abstinence throughout their life course (including those with a history of alcohol dependence) but whose alcohol-related problems reflect the cumulative effects of lifetime consumption.


Manchester’s local alcohol strategy sets out to increase access to Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice across services working with older adults. To arrange a bespoke training session for your team or service, please contact Liz Burns to discuss your requirements or book a place on our next multi-agency training course “Safer Drinking in Later Life”

To download a copy of our Guide to Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice for Older Adults click here....