Alcohol and Risk of Falling
Can alcohol increase your risk of falling?
Yes, high alcohol consumption has been shown to increase the risk of falls in older adults.
Recommendation: For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces your risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury over a lifetime.
What is a standard drink?
A standard drink is a unit of measurement and contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. It is important to note that drink serving sizes are often more than one standard drink. There are no common glass sizes used in Australia. The label on an alcoholic drink container tells you the number of standard drinks in the container. You can use the images below to see how many standard drinks are in a variety of beverages:
|Volume||Percent alcohol||Standard drinks|
How Does alcohol cause falls?
- poor judgement, coordination and slower reaction time
- poor assessment of risky situations (e.g. potholes)
- drowsiness and decreases alertness, postural imbalance, drop in blood pressure
High intake of alcohol = more than 14 standard drinks per week (two standard drinks on any day). Recent studies have shown that a high intake of alcohol increases your risk of falling. The risk of falling rises with the amount you are drinking. It is also shown that alcohol abuse is significantly associated with injurious falls. Alcohol consumption is a modifiable fall risk factor. The results of these studies suggest that if you have a high alcohol intake, you can prevent a fall by drinking less. Alcohol-related falls are more often associated with head and facial injuries.
Moderate or no intake of alcohol = not more than 7 standard drinks per week (one standard drink on any day down to no single drink a day). Limited (abstinence) to moderate alcohol consumption does not increase your risk of falling. In one study, moderate drinkers when compared to life-long alcohol abstainers were 21% less likely to fall. Why could moderate alcohol consumption protect against falls? One proposed explanation is that older people who regularly consume alcohol are fitter and less frail than older people who never drink alcohol.
The take home message is that high alcohol intake increases your fall risk, but moderate or limited intake does not.
For more information about alcohol and falls or about “how much alcohol is too much?” talk to your doctor or health professional.
You could also visit: http://www.alcohol.gov.au/internet/alcohol/publishing.nsf/Content/guidelines
Here you can get contact numbers for direct help: https://drinkwise.org.au/drinking-and-you/support-services/