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What is Excessive Alcohol Use?

What is excessive alcohol use?

What is excessive alcohol use?

Excessive drinking includes:

  • Binge drinking: For women, binge drinking is 4 or more drinks consumed on one occasion (one occasion = 2-3 hours). For men, binge drinking is 5 or more drinks consumed on one occasion.
  • Underage drinking: Any alcohol use by those under age 21.
  • Heavy drinking: For women, heavy drinking is 8 drinks or more per week. For men, heavy drinking is 15 drinks or more per week.
  • Pregnant drinking: Any alcohol use by pregnant women

What is considered a "drink"?

U.S. standard drink sizes:

  • 12 ounces of 5% ABV beer
  • 8 ounces of 7% ABV malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of 12% ABV wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 40% ABV (80-proof) distilled spirits or liquor (examples: gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

How does excessive drinking affect us?

  • 88,000 deaths per year
  • Violence, injuries, and motor vehicle crashes
  • Risky sexual behaviors, unintended pregnancies, miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure
  • $249 billion economic cost

Binge drinking is the main problem

  • Over 90% of excessive drinkers binge drink
  • 1 in 6 more than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink
  • Binge drinkers do so about 4 times a month
  • Binge drinkers average 8 drinks per binge
  • Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent or alcoholics

If you choose to drink, do so in moderation

  • No one should begin drinking or drink more frequently based on potential health benefits
  • Up to 1 drink a day for women
  • Up to 2 drinks a day for men
  • Don't drink at all if you are under age 21, pregnant or may be pregnant, or have health problems that could be made worse by drinking

For more information:

What is excessive alcohol use? [PDF - 722KB]