How Much is Too Much?

What is excessive drinking?

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, and any drinking by pregnant women or people younger than age 21.

  • Binge drinking, the most common form of drinking, is defined as consuming
    • For women, 4 or more drinks during a single occasion.
    • For men, 5 or more drinks during a single occasion.
  • Heavy drinking is defined as consuming
    • For women, 8 or more drinks per week.
    • For men, 15 or more drinks per week.

Most people who drink excessively are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.

What is moderate drinking?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men. However, there are some persons who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:

  • Pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
  • Taking prescription or over-the-counter medications that may cause harmful reactions when mixed with alcohol.
  • Younger than age 21.
  • Recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink.
  • Suffering from a medical condition that may be worsened by alcohol.
  • Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.

In addition, no one should start drinking or drink more based on potential health benefits.   By adhering to the Dietary Guidelines, you can reduce the risk of harm to yourself or others.


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