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In this Section
- Overview of Alcohol Consumption
- Alcohol's Effects on the Body
- Alcohol Use Disorders
- Fetal Alcohol Exposure
- Support & Treatment
- Alcohol Policy
- Special Populations & Co-occurring Disorders
Drinking Levels Defined
Moderate alcohol consumption:
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, moderate drinking is up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.
- NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which conducts the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks on the same occasion on at least 1 day in the past 30 days.
SAMHSA defines heavy drinking as drinking 5 or more drinks on the same occasion on each of 5 or more days in the past 30 days.
Low Risk for Developing an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD):
As defined by NIAAA, for women, low-risk drinking is no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week. For men, it is defined as no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week. NIAAA research shows that only about 2 in 100 people who drink within these limits have an AUD. Even within these limits, you can have problems if you drink too quickly or have other health issues.
Certain people should avoid alcohol completely, including those who:
Plan to drive a vehicle or operate machinery
Take medications that interact with alcohol
Have a medical condition that alcohol can aggravate
Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant