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Drink Alcohol in Moderation

Photo of red wine being poured into a wine glass

The Basics

If you choose to drink alcohol, have only a moderate amount. This means up to one drink a day for women; two drinks a day for men.

One drink is:

  • 12 ounces of beer (one bottle)
  • 5 ounces of wine (one glass)
  • 1.5 ounces of liquor (one shot)

For most adults, moderate drinking does not cause any serious health problems.

However, if you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting down or quitting. You should not drink at all if you are:

  • Pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant
  • Under the age of 21
  • Planning to drive a car or use machines
  • Taking over-the-counter or prescription medicine that can interact with alcohol (check the label)
  • Recovering from alcoholism

How can I Tell if I Have a Drinking Problem?
Take this quiz to help you find out if you or a loved one has a drinking problem. If you have a problem, it is important to see a doctor right away.

The Benefits

If you are drinking too much, here are some reasons to cut down or stop drinking:

  • Get along better with your family
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, and liver problems
  • Help you lose weight (alcoholic drinks have calories)

What you can do instead of drinking:

  • Go for a walk or play a sport
  • Do something fun with your family
  • Take up a new hobby

This Alcohol-Spending Calculator will tell you how much money you could be spending on something other than alcohol.

Take Action!

Try to limit your drinking to:

  • One drink a day for women
  • Two drinks a day for men

Keep Track of Your Drinking
First, set a drinking limit. For example, you may decide to have no more than 3 drinks per week.

Step 1: Write down your drinking limit on a piece of paper.

Step 2: Keep track of your drinking. Write down every time you have a drink for one week. Use a diary like this one or make your own.

Take a day off From Drinking
Choose a day each week (for example, Tuesdays) when you will not drink.

Don’t Drink When you are Upset
If you have a bad day or are feeling angry, don’t reach for a drink. Try taking a walk, seeing a movie, or relaxing with a warm cup of tea.

Get Your Blood Pressure Checked
Heavy drinking can raise your blood pressure.

Avoid Places Where People Drink too Much
Stay away from bars or other places that make you want to drink. Plan ahead of time what you will say or do if someone gives you a drink.

Ask for Help if you Need it
Talk to a doctor if you are having a hard time cutting down on your drinking. Don’t give up!

Learn how drinking may affect your blood pressure and risk for heart disease.

What do you want to do today?

  • Take this quiz to see if you have a drinking problem.
  • Set a drinking limit and write it down.
  • Print out this diary to keep track of your drinking.
  • Make an appointment to get your blood pressure checked.
  • National Health Information Center

    P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133