Most studies into how people drink over their lifetimes have found that consumption peaks in early adulthood and declines later but little is known about individual's drinking patterns and what factors make people drink less or more as they age. Researchers from Duke University in North Carolina studied 6,787 people who were between 51 and 61 in 1992 and tracked their alcohol consumption regularly until 2006. The study found that overall alcohol consumption in the group declined. However, for a minority of people alcohol consumption increased. These people were more likely to be affluent, highly-educated, male, White, unmarried, less religious and in excellent to good health. People who were problem drinkers before the study started were more likely to drink more as they got older whereas people who were light drinkers at the start of the study were more likely to drink less.
Platt, Alyssa, Sloan, Frank A. and Costanzo, Philip - Alcohol-consumption trajectories and associated characteristics among adults older than age 50 Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs March 2010, 71(2), 169-179