3/29/2023 | By Annie Tobey

Do attitudes on alcohol consumption change as we get older? I know mine have. I’ve never been a heavy drinker, and I usually choose lower-alcohol beer over higher-octane wine or cocktails. However, a slowing, aging metabolism has me tapping the brakes. Coincidentally, I find myself in step with today’s changing attitudes on alcohol. The new attitudes are irrelevant to age and offer NA beverage opportunities for all to enjoy responsibly.

Youthful exuberance

Many teens eagerly anticipate reaching legal drinking age. Their 21st birthday celebrations become opportunities to imbibe without restriction. Young adult parties – including fraternity parties – are often marked by overdrinking. Alcohol is often seen as a social lubricant, a good-times stimulant, an escape from drudgery, and a pleasurable privilege.

With age and maturity, many youthful bingers wake up to become more responsible, meeting their obligations and safeguarding their health.

Some studies seem to indicate that moderate alcohol use can have benefits – or at least do no harm. However, the long-term consequences of heavy use are indisputable, including liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage. Alcohol abuse can even worsen health conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, and memory loss.

The changing effects of alcohol with age

As we age, our bodies metabolize alcohol less efficiently (and calories, too!). This means that the same amount of alcohol packs a bigger punch than it did a few decades ago, from loss of balance and slower reflexes (leading to falls and auto accidents) to greater potential medical repercussions, such as ulcers and high blood pressure.

On top of that, alcohol can be deadly when mixed with certain medications, putting many older adults at greater risk.

Today’s changing attitudes on alcohol

senior women playing cards and drinking cocktails. Article on the changing attitudes on alcohol

More Americans are becoming “sober curious” – trimming or nixing their alcohol consumption – reports NCSolutions. The company’s report found that 34% of respondents are trying to drink less and 28% have tried to cease drinking. The change is reflected across the generations, but Gen Z “may be leading the charge from cocktails to mocktails.”

From August 2021 to August 2022, the sales of non-alcoholic drinks jumped more than 20.6 percent.

Older adults who have embraced alcohol as part of their lifestyle may hesitate to embrace this trend. Even if their consumption has been moderate, they still look forward to that five o’clock drink, a glass of wine or beer with dinner, toasting special occasions with friends, or other ingrained reasons to raise a glass.

The options

If you, like me, are concerned about the effects of drinking but don’t want to lose the pleasures, today’s changing attitudes on alcohol are working in our favor.

Many producers have jumped on the bandwagon to produce tasty non-alcoholic (NA) options.

  • Some businesses produce NA drinks only. Some mimic the taste of spirits, beer, and wine without the alcohol (and often with fewer calories). Some add nootropics, adaptogens, and other beneficial ingredients.
  • Liquor posers and mocktails offering other benefits include Curious Elixirs, Kin Euphorics, Seedlip, Dhōs Spirits, and more.
  • Popular NA beer brands include WellBeing Brewing, Big Drop Brewing, and Athletic Brewing. (Note: most NA beers are of necessity “near beers,” with .5% alcohol or less by volume.)
  • Some breweries brew NA beers alongside their full-alcohol lineup. These could be in a local brewery or retailer near you. Others come from Brew Dog, Brooklyn, Mikkeller, and Samuel Adams.

While many of these products are available online, local retailers, restaurants, and bars have started offering these to their customers, alongside their full-alcohol products. Better yet, some new retailers and bars specialize in alcohol-free fun.

Personal takeaways

As I’ve explored the brave new world of NA beverages, I’ve found plenty of unappetizing products alongside some welcome substitutes. I don’t feel compelled to totally ditch the alcohol, but I welcome the chance to nurture my health and save calories for more nutritious foods.

I’ve enjoyed a delightful NA-groni from a local craft cocktail bar, the UNCOOL line of NA beers from a local brewery, and shelves of options at a retailer specializing in no-alcohol beverages (with free tastes of the mock spirits and wines and individual beer can sales, to ensure I don’t waste money on products I don’t like.

If you’ve experienced your own changing attitutes on alcohol – maybe you’re sober curious, totally ready to reject alcohol, or just looking to trim your intake – give NA alcohol a try. You’ve got nothing to lose, and plenty to gain.

Annie Tobey

Annie Tobey has been a professional writer and editor for more than 30 years. As editor of BOOMER magazine, she explored a diversity of topics of particular interest to adult children of seniors. When she’s not writing, she can be found running the trails or enjoying a beer with friends.

Annie Tobey