Last Updated on February 26, 2021
It seems that there’s a study published each week that boasts the health benefits of alcoholic beverages. Let’s toast to our good health, right? Not quite. Unfortunately, it turns out that even moderate levels of drinking can be detrimental. The cumulative effects of drinking beer, wine, or spirits can take their toll.
One study, published in the Lancet, concluded that alcohol consumption is the seventh leading risk factor 1 in disability and death, with 2.8 million deaths each year across the globe. According to the study, just one alcoholic drink a day can increase an individual’s risk for health problems.
In contrast to public health guidelines in many countries and much previous research, the authors concluded that no level of alcohol consumption carries health benefits. The analysis, the largest of its kind, linked population-wide trends to population-wide consumption. It was also observational, relying on 694 data sources in 195 territories and countries from 1990 to 2016.
How Much Alcohol Is Safe to Drink Daily?
While daily alcohol consumption is generally not recommended, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a few tips to ensure the recommended levels of alcohol are not exceeded, plus guidelines for consumption. The guidelines specify two drinks or less in a day for men 2 and one drink or less in a day for women. A drink can be any one of the following:
- 1.5 ounces of 40% (or 80 proof) spirits
- 12 ounces of 5% beer
- 5 ounces of 12% wine
Each of these will increase blood alcohol content by the same amount.
To understand how much alcohol is safe to drink daily, it’s crucial to know the limits for your specific gender, weight, age, and health conditions. Other factors may be involved in ensuring the possibility of safe drinking, including:
- Skipping shots and drinking games.
- Keeping track of how many drinks you’ve consumed.
- Slowing intake by using alcohol-free drinks.
- Eating before and while consuming alcohol.
If taking medications or using other substances, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether. It’s also a good idea to consider the correlations between mental health and alcohol abuse. Co-occurring disorders are on the rise and are especially prevalent among those with alcohol use disorder 3.
Is It Possible to Drink Safely?
So, how much alcohol can you drink at a safe level? And how much alcohol is too much in one night?
In some cases, no level of drinking can be considered risk-free. Depending on your health, age, and other factors, you may need to drink even less than CDC guidelines suggest—or not at all. Here are a few cases in which you may have to stop drinking altogether:
- You frequently operate or drive heavy equipment.
- You have certain medical conditions, including chronic pain, hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, and some mental disorders and heart conditions.
- You are pregnant or trying to become pregnant.
- You are taking medications known to interact with alcohol negatively.
Because risk thresholds for alcohol consumption vary significantly among individuals 4, it’s best to take a personalized approach to find a safe drinking level for you.
Let Ria Health Help You Change Your Drinking Habits
If you’re struggling with alcohol use or find that binge drinking is a persistent challenge to overcome, Ria Health offers resources that can help. Our team will help you change your patterns around alcohol consumption without putting your life on hold. We offer prescription anti-craving medication, regular coaching sessions, medical support, and more—all from your smartphone.