Many men and women see retirement as a time to relax and reward oneself. After perhaps decades of hard work, some people might think to themselves, “Why not enjoy life with a few drinks from time to time?” However, there are many dangers that come with drinking or using drugs in one’s later life, a time when there are already many health risks.

But that’s not all. Those who end up using substances do so for many reasons, not just because of the hard work they’ve done. Here is a list of reasons why a person might use substances while in their retirement:

  • –to escape feelings of loneliness
  • –struggling to adjust to a new way of life
  • –fear of getting old
  • –escaping boredom
  • –recent death of a spouse or friend
  • –reduced mental functioning
  • –pain in the body
  • –worries about one’s health
  • –increased financial concerns
  • –feeling entitled to live wildly again


For all these reasons, a person in retirement might turn to the use of drugs or alcohol. However, there are clear dangers of substance use as one gets older. For instance, the health risks that come with drinking and drug use, regardless of age, are magnified when someone is older. For instance, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, liver problems, mood disorders, memory problems, and osteoporosis are illnesses frequently experienced by the elderly. Regular alcohol consumption can make these health concerns worse.

Furthermore, aging can lower a person’s body tolerance to alcohol. This can mean that older adults feel the effects of alcohol more quickly. And this in turn can create incredible risks for an elderly person to experience falls, car accidents, and other forms of accidental harm. Here are some additional reasons why substance use during retirement is risky:

  • –Someone who is retired might feel that having few responsibilities in life gives them permission to drink or use drugs as much as they want. This can lead to excessive and consistent drinking, which in turn, can contribute to addiction.
  • –Many of those who are in retirement live alone or live a solitary life, making it easier to hide their drinking and drug use.
  • –Retirement might trigger a person to relapse if they’ve recovered from addiction earlier in life.
  • –Retirement might also trigger someone to want to be more social, which can make a person more accessible to drinking.
  • –Those who are old enough to be in retirement might be taking medication, of which effectiveness might be undermined by drinking or drug use.


In order for older adults to stay safe with their drinking, it is best to follow guidelines provided by one’s doctor. Furthermore, if a person is taking prescription drug medication and/or if someone is a recovering addict, he or she should stay away from substance use altogether.

Retirement shouldn’t be an excuse to drink. Retirement is a time to focus on one’s health for the opportunity to life a long and meaningful life.

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