Subjects: Behavioral health
Mom and dad can’t handle liquor the way they used to even though they think they can, and it’s a matter of time before the same fate befalls younger revelers.
That’s what Rebecca Gilbertson and her team at U. Kentucky concluded after performing a randomized double-blind experiment to evaluate the impact of age on intoxication at alcohol levels typically associated with social, or moderate drinking.
The scientists probably had no trouble recruiting 42 adults between 50-74 years of age and another 26 adults between 25 and 35 for the study. Participants owned up to drinking in moderation at least once a month.
Gilbertson’s group used controlled alcohol administration techniques known to produce breath alcohol concentrations similar to a bout of social drinking (40 mg/100 ml), administered psychomotor coordination tests and collected self-reported data regarding perceived intoxication and impairment.
They did that once while blood alcohol levels were rising in participants’ bloodstreams and once while they were descending.
It turned out that on the ascending limb of the trip, older adults exhibited more psychomotor impairment and tended to underestimate how impaired they were compared with the hotshot 25-35 year-olds.
The results “reinforce common knowledge that self-reported measures of alcohol intoxication may not provide an accurate reflection of performance outcomes and that older adults may be impaired even at a moderate dose of alcohol,” wrote the authors.
“This potential disconnection between self-reported and behavioral effects of alcohol may have significant implications for public health and safety, particularly among active, older social drinkers.”
The write-up is in Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.