If you choose to drink alcohol, the key is to keep your drinking at the safest possible levels, called low-risk drinking. It's important to remember that drinking alcohol is not risk-free.
Many people enjoy drinking alcohol, and most people usually do it safely. But it's okay to choose not to drink.
In general, limit how much you drink. Canadian health experts recommend that:
On special occasions every now and then, it's okay to have 1 extra drink.
If you choose to drink, keep the amount of alcohol you drink within the recommended limits. Drinking at the upper limits should only happen once in a while, not every day or week. And on at least a couple of days each week, don't drink any alcohol at all.
Keep in mind that a safe amount of alcohol for one person may be too much for another. Because of things like age, sex, weight, and health history, alcohol can affect people differently. If you're an adult who doesn't weigh a lot, is younger than 25 or older than 65, or isn't used to drinking, you need to be even more careful about how much alcohol you drink.
If you choose to drink, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick or injured:
Some research suggests that having 1 drink a day may help lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes in middle-aged adults. But these possible health benefits decline with each additional drink that you have. Research also shows that any amount of alcohol can increase your risk of other health problems, such as some cancers.
If you don't drink now, don't start drinking to lower your risk of these health problems. There are many other ways you can lower your risk, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking. Talk to your doctor about your health and the benefits and risks of drinking alcohol.
When you drink alcohol, you may be putting your health and safety at risk. Your risk of harm increases with each drink that you have. And your risk of harm increases with how often you drink at amounts above the low-risk drinking guidelines, whether you do this only now and then or on a more regular basis.
Drinking alcohol may:
If you think you're drinking too much, you might want to cut back.
Young people should wait at least until they are in their late teenage years to drink alcohol. Follow the laws for the legal drinking age where you live. Drinking at a younger age can affect a young person's general health, physical growth, emotional development, ability to make good decisions, and schoolwork.
Parents can play a key part in teaching their children how to drink safely and responsibly.
Although most people can safely have a drink now and then, some people should not drink at all.
Don't drink alcohol if:
Talk to your doctor about whether drinking alcohol is safe for you. And if it is, ask how much is okay.
|Alcohol Reality Check|
|Center for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC)|
This site offers Canadians a simple online test to find out if their drinking habits are unhealthy or put them at risk of harm.
|Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse|
|75 Albert Street|
|Ottawa, ON K1P 5E7|
The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) is an independent national organization working to reduce health, social, and economic harm associated with substance abuse and addictions. The centre promotes informed debate on substance abuse issues and supports organizations seeking to prevent or treat substance abuse.
|Centre for Addiction and Mental Health|
|1001 Queen Street West|
|Toronto, ON M6J 1H4|
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. CAMH has central facilities located in Toronto and 32 community locations throughout the province.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health website has consumer friendly information about addictions and mental health problems.
|Centre for Addictions Research of BC|
The Centre for Addictions Research of BC is a provincial network dedicated to research and knowledge on substance use, harm reduction, and addiction.
Other Works Consulted
- Butt P, et al. (2011). Alcohol and Health in Canada: A Summary of Evidence and Guidelines for Low-Risk Drinking. Ottawa: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Timothy R. Stockwell, PhD|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Sue Barton, PhD, PsyD - Behavioral Health|
|Last Revised||April 17, 2012|
Last Revised: April 17, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Thomas M. Bailey, MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator & Timothy R. Stockwell, PhD & Sue Barton, PhD, PsyD - Behavioral Health
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