Moderate or “low-risk” drinking
Research shows that people who drink moderately may be less likely to experience an alcohol use disorder (AUD). These drinking levels, which differ for men and women, are:
For men:
No more than 4 drinks on any single day AND no more than 14 drinks per week
For women:
No more than 3 drinks on any single day AND no more than 7 drinks per week
To stay low risk for AUDs, you must keep within both the single-day and weekly limits.
Even within these limits, you can have problems if you drink too quickly or have other health issues. To keep your risk for problems low, make sure you:
  • Drink slowly
  • Eat enough while drinking
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
Heavy or “at-risk” drinking
For healthy adults in general, heavy drinking means consuming more than the single-day or the weekly amounts listed above. About 1 in 4 people who drink above these levels already has alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse problems.
Binge drinking
Binge drinking means drinking so much within about 2 hours that blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach 0.08g/dL. For women, this usually occurs after about 4 drinks, and for men, after about 5.
Drinking this way can pose health and safety risks, including car crashes and injuries. Over the long term, binge drinking can damage the liver and other organs.