- If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation (women no more than 1 drink
a day; men no more than 2 drinks a day). Avoid "binge drinking." If you are concerned
about your drinking, talk to your VA health care team about getting help.
- One drink is:
- 12 oz. regular beer OR
- 8-9 oz. malt liquor OR
- 5 oz. table wine OR
- 1.5 oz. 80-proof hard liquor.
- Binge drinking is having:
- More than 3 drinks on one occasion for women and adults over age 64.
- More than 4 drinks on one occasion for men.
- Remember, on average, women should have no more than one drink a day (and no
more than 7 drinks per
week) and men should have no more than 2 drinks a day ( and no more than 14 drinks per week).
- For many adults, drinking small amounts of alcohol does not cause serious health
- Too much alcohol use or binge drinking can lead to higher risk of health problems,
such as liver damage or other injuries.
- The following people should not drink alcohol at all:
- Children and teenagers
- People of any age who cannot limit their drinking to the recommended levels
- Women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant
- People who plan to drive, operate machines, or take part in other activities that
require attention, skill, or coordination
- People taking certain medications that interact with alcohol
- People with certain medical conditions
- People recovering from alcohol dependence (alcoholism)
- Alcohol dependence can be treated. Effective treatments include individual counseling,
group treatments, medications to reduce craving or prevent relapse, and inpatient
or residential treatment. Talk to your VA health care team about the resources VA
has that can help.
* Indicates that the link leads to a non-VA website. The VA is not responsible for
the content that is on the site.
If you have questions or interest in making a healthy living change, please
see your primary care team at the VA facility in which you receive health care.
- Definition of "One Drink": 12 oz. regular beer OR 8-9 oz. malt liquor OR 5 oz. table
wine OR 1.5 oz. 80-proof hard liquor.
- Excessive Alcohol Use: Heavy drinking (drinking more than two drinks per day on
average for men, or more than one drink per day on average for women or people
over age 64), or binge drinking
(drinking 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks
during a single occasion for women)
- Binge Drinking: According to the National Institute
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism*, binge drinking is defined as a pattern of
alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08%
or above. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to more than 4 drinks on
a single occasion for men or more than 3 drinks on a single occasion for women and
adults over age 65, generally within about 2 hours.
- Problem Drinking: Pattern of drinking that results in harm to one's health, interpersonal
relationships, or ability to work. Certain manifestations of alcohol abuse include
failure to fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or home; drinking in dangerous
situations, such as while driving; legal problems associated with alcohol use; and
continued drinking despite problems that are caused or worsened by drinking. Alcohol
abuse can lead to alcohol dependence.
- Alcoholism or Alcohol Dependence: A diagnosable disease characterized by several
factors, including a strong craving for alcohol, continued use despite harm or personal
injury, the inability to limit drinking, physical illness when drinking stops, and
the need to increase the amount drunk to feel the effects.
- Guide to Community Preventive Services. Motor vehicle-related injury prevention:
Reducing Alcohol-impaired Driving.
- NIAAA council approves definition of binge drinking. NIAAA Newsletter.