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How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

Although everyone is different, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that people over age 65 should have no more than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks on any one day. If you have a health problem or are taking certain medicines you may need to drink less, or not at all. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

What's considered a drink? 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Your body handles alcohol differently as you age

As you get older, you may feel the effects with less alcohol and be unable to drink as much. Also, alcohol is processed by the body more slowly in older adults, so blood alcohol levels are higher for a longer amount of time after drinking. This can lead to an increased danger of accidents, falls, and injuries, even many hours after drinking alcohol.

When is it a problem?

Consider getting help if you or a loved one:

  • Hides or lies about drinking
  • Has more than seven drinks a week or more than three drinks in one day
  • Gets hurt or harms others when drinking

Take a free anonymous online screening

Concerned about your drinking or want to know if you should change your lifestyle? Take a free anonymous screening online. After answering a few questions, you’ll get explanations about your behavior and informational material about next steps.

Take the screening

What can it lead to?

Drinking too much alcohol over a long time can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as some types of cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage. It can also worsen health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and ulcers. Alcohol abuse can also make some medical problems hard for doctors to find and treat—for example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack.

How to drink responsibly

Be aware of how your body changes as you age. Be alert to these changes and adjust how much alcohol you can safely drink. There are many ways to increase your awareness of alcohol, cut back, or stop drinking:

  • 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.
  • Count how many ounces of alcohol you are getting in each drink.
  • Pace yourself; don’t have more than one alcoholic drink in an hour.
  • Make sure to eat and drink water when drinking alcohol.
  • If you want to quit drinking, ask for support from your family and advice from your health care provider.

How Our Plans Can Help

$0 Copay For Alcohol Screening

Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred members are covered for one screening for members at risk for misusing alcohol.

$0 Copay For Counseling

If a screening determines you need it, Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred members can get up to four brief, face-to-face counseling sessions per year.

$0 Copay For a Depression Screening

Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred members are covered for one screening for depression per year. Your doctor can check for signs of clinical depression with a depression screening. A screening generally consists of questions about your mood and lifestyle.

Learn More

Mental Health Coverage

Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred members are covered for mental health services. If you are referred to a mental health specialist, you pay a copay for the visit. Your copay amount depends on your plan.

Resources & Tools

drug search
Drug Search
Use the drug search tools to find out if your drugs are covered and which tier they fall under on your plan type.
senior health library
Health Library A-Z
Tufts Health Plan has partnered with Healthwise to provide members with access to a library of high-quality content on conditions, treatments and more.
doctor search
Find a Doctor
Find a doctor within your Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred HMO network or your Tufts Health Plan Senior Care Options network.