At an age where you’ve had years to experience drinking, it’s fair to assume that you know your tolerance. You may even think you know what your limits are per drink. But those who indulge in moderation may not realize that their tolerance has been slowly decreasing as they age. In fact, most people think their tolerance will increase with age.

As you age, your body changes. This is obvious, but most rarely relate this change to alcohol tolerance.

What changes affect your tolerance?

As your body changes, drinking affects you differently. When you age, your muscle mass decreases while your body fat content increases. This contributes to why people in their 20s can generally drink the same as people in their 40s and have a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Muscle mass helps your system process alcohol.

As you age, the time it takes for your liver to process alcohol slows and the amount of water your body holds decreases. Because of this, alcohol stays in your system longer. The longer alcohol sits in your system, the more it will affect you.

What does this mean?

A smaller amount of alcohol can have a big impact on someone who is older. Your mental and physical functions become even more impaired than what you could handle when you were younger. It’s best to practice safety precautions while drinking. Never drive or operate machinery after having any alcohol. It can lead to serious and dangerous accidents. Drinking inhibits reaction times for anyone, and your reaction times will only decrease with age.

Adults of all ages underestimate the effect drinking has on them. Unfortunately for more experienced tipplers, underestimating the effects only worsens. Having awareness over your body’s ability to handle alcohol as you age can only help you know your limits and practice safe imbibing.