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National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

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Limit Alcohol

If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation (for women, no more than 1 drink a day; for 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. 

What's Important to Know?

If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Women and everyone over age 64 should drink no more than 1 drink per day (and not more than 7 drinks per week). Men aged 64 and under should drink no more than 2 drinks per day (and not more than 14 drinks per week). One drink is equivalent to:

  • 12 oz. regular beer, usually about 5% alcohol or
  • 8-9 oz. malt liquor, or
  • 5 oz. table wine (12%), or
  • 1.5 oz. 80-proof hard liquor

Drinking too much alcohol, or “binge drinking,” can lead to a higher risk of health problems such as liver damage, pancreatitis, or other issues. Binge drinking is defined as:

  • More than 3 drinks on one occasion for women and adults over age 64
  • More than 4 drinks on one occasion for men

For many adults, drinking small amounts of alcohol does not cause serious health problems. Women who drink no more than 1 drink a day (and not more than 7 drinks per week) and men who drink no more than 2 drinks a day (and not more than 14 drinks per week) are at low risk for developing problems with alcohol use.

However, as we age, our bodies do not process alcohol as easily, and the limits for all people over age 64 are no more than 1 drink a day and 7 drinks per week. In addition, there are people such as children, pregnant women, and those with certain medical conditions who should not drink any alcohol.

Man choosing to stop drinking

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Want to Know More?

Your VA health care team can help if you have questions about limiting alcohol. Talk with them if you are concerned about your drinking. They can help you reduce risky drinking. Alcohol dependence can be treated. Treatment options include: individual counseling, group treatments, medications to reduce cravings or prevent relapse, and inpatient or residential treatment.

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