How much alcohol is safe to drink?

Alcohol is never completely safe, it can cause harm to the person who drinks and sometimes to those around them. The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol provides evidence-based recommendations on how to keep risk of harm from alcohol low.

It’s never completely safe

Alcohol affects everyone.

How much you drink is your choice, but you should know that drinking is never free of risk. The less you drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol.

To understand the risks, read about the effects of alcohol.

Guidelines to reduce your risk

To reduce your risk when you drink alcohol, follow the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. These guidelines are based on scientific research and evidence.

These guidelines have been recently reviewed by the National Health and Medical Research Council. The proposed new draft guidelines state:

Adults

If you’re a healthy adult:

  • To reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury, healthy men and women should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.

The less you choose to drink, the lower your risk of harm from alcohol. For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option. 

A standard drink contains 10 g of pure alcohol. Many drinks have more than 1 standard drink in them. Check the label on your bottle or container, or refer to the Standard Drinks Guide, to see how many standard drinks are in it. 

Children and young people

To reduce the risk of injury and other harms to health, children and young people under 18 years of age should not drink alcohol.

Find out more about alcohol and young people.

Pregnant women

To prevent harm from alcohol to their unborn child, women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol.

For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest for their baby.

Find out more about alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

How to drink more safely

For many people, it’s possible to enjoy alcohol and still drink at a level that keeps the risk of harm low. Read about how you can stay safe when drinking alcohol.

If you’re drinking a lot or finding it hard to control your drinking:

National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline contact

Call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline for free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs.

View contact

Last updated: 
8 December 2020
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