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Drinking and Your Health

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Most of us don’t have a clear picture of how alcohol can impact our lives and our health.

You don’t have to be an alcoholic to be at risk for alcohol-related health problems. Excessive drinking is dangerous to your health. To better understand your risks, consider:

How Much is Too Much?

Excessive drinking is defined as

For Men:

· 5 or more drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2 hour period or
· More than 14 drinks in a week

For Women:

· 4 or more drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2 hour period, or
· More than 7 drinks in a week

What Counts as a Drink?

A standard drink contains 14 grams of pure alcohol or:

12 oz Beer 5 oz. wine 1.5 oz. liquor
glass of beer glass of wine glass of liquor
How is Excessive Drinking Dangerous to My Health?

Excessive drinking can increase the risk of many health-related issues such as:


Cirrhosis (scaring of the liver)


Weakened immune system

* Hepatitis * Accidents & Injuries
* Osteoporosis * Depression
* Enlarged Heart or Weakened Heart Muscle * Suicide
* Cancer * Memory Loss
    * Hypertension
Excessive drinking can also put you at risk for:
  • Committing or being the victim of violence
  • Arrest for DUI & loss of your driver’s license
  • Loss of your job or work performance
  • Damage or loss of personal relationships
Sometimes Any Drinking can be Harmful

It is safest to avoid alcohol altogether if you

  • Will be driving or operating heavy equipment
  • Are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
  • Have a personal or family  history of alcohol, drug dependence or depression
  • Are taking prescription medications
  • Are caring for children or others
  • Are under the legal drinking age (21)
Do I Have A Drinking Problem?

Check the box next to your answer to each question. Write your score for each question in the SCORE column and add up the total.

Over the past 12 months







How often have you had a drink that contained alcohol


Monthly or less

2-4 times a month

2-3 times a week

4 or more times a week


On a typical drinking day, how many drinks did you have?

1 or 2

3 or 4

5 or 6

7 to 9

10 or more


How often did you have 6 or more drinks on one occasion


Less than monthly



Daily or almost daily







Total Score


What Your Score Means
  • Your drinking could be harmful if your total score is:
  • 3 or higher for women and people age 65 and older
  • 4 or higher for men
What Are Strategies for Cutting Down on My Drinking?
  • Keep Track of how much you drink.
  • Measure the drinks you consume so you can accurately count your drinks.
  • Set goals on how many days a week you want to drink and how many drinks you’ll have on those days.
  • Pace and space your drinks by sipping slowly and have no more than one drink per hour.
  • Include food by not drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Avoid “triggers” that urge you to drink by planning what you’ll do instead of drinking.
  • Say No when you’re offered a drink when you don’t want one.



Page last updated 08/26/2013