What are Moderate Drinking Guidelines?

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : December 04, 
| 4 Sources

International Drinking Guidelines

Using alcohol sensibly and drinking within moderate drinking guidelines makes sense
It will insure that alcohol does not impact on your health.

If you drink within moderate drinking guidelines (see below for the actual guidelines), you are not in danger of becoming alcohol dependent, in fact alcohol can be beneficial to your health. As a matter of fact, moderate drinking and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases have been observed in men and women.

Moderate Drinking Guidelines

Drinking moderately will benefit your:

  • health
  • finances
  • relationships
  • self-esteem
  • ......and ultimately it means you are highly unlikely to develop signs of alcoholism.
However, if your drinking is already a problem then there are many in the addiction field who state that in order to 'get better' you must abstain from alcohol.

This is also the belief held by Alcoholics Anonymous and its adherents. They also believe that abstention is the only treatment for alcoholism and balk at anyone who might declare otherwise.

Yet, for many the AA way is not for them, and for these people there are methods, programs and medications that do not demand that you remain alcohol free for the remainder of your life.

So What is Moderate Drinking?

Moderate drinking is not relative to what other people drink.

If you friends drink 12 cans of beer a night and you drink 6 it doesn't mean you are drinking moderately (or safely). You are drinking less compared to them but your alcohol intake is harming your health.

Moderate drinking is something of a balancing act. It sits at the extent at which the health advantages of alcohol obviously outweigh the risks. There are moderate drinking guidelines that show the level of alcohol consumption that is accepted as safe by the medical community.

They vary slightly from country to country, as there are no international drinking guidelines but they are basically the same:

In the U.K.

You can safely drink per week....

  • 21 units of alcohol if you are a man.
  • 14 units if you are a woman.
Men should drink no more than 4 units in a day and women no more than two. (the limit is significantly higher for men because they’re generally bigger than women, and they likewise metabolize alcohol differently).

WHAT IS A UNIT OF ALCOHOL? 1 unit of alcohol is 1/2 a pint of beer, a small glass of wine or a small pub measure of spirits (not a measure poured by your Uncle Harry into a pint glass!). The percentage of “pure” alcohol differs across and within beverage types.

In the U.S.

the Surgeon General has decreed that it is O.K.........

  • For men to have no more than two drinks per day.
  • For women to have no more than one drink per day.
WHAT IS MEANT BY A DRINK? What identifies a “standard drink” differs by country. In the US, one drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

Just because you drink more than the above guidelines does not make you an alcoholic.

You might be, but there are warning signs of alcoholism and alcoholism tests that are a better way of determining whether or not you are a drink addict.

Many, many people drink more than recommended who are not alcoholic.

If you are currently drinking more than the guidelines above and are NOT addicted to drink then why not cut down and try to follow the moderate drinking guidelines above for a while.

Drinking more than the guidelines suggest can, in some people, lead to alcohol dependence and it will damage your health.

Drinking within the guidelines not only means you won't harm your well-being but there are benefits to drinking alcohol also.

A win-win situation.

Give Up Alcohol

Do you want help with moderating your drinking? Are you worried that if you continue the way you are you might become dependent on alcohol? "Stop Drinking Alcohol" is an e-book that give you the tools to either return to normal drinking (staying within moderate drinking guidelines) or stop altogether WITHOUT the need for the 12 steps. I highly recommend it as a viable alternative for binge drinkers wishing to cut down on their alcohol consumption.

If you or someone close to you wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


Psychology Today. Defining Moderate Drinking. July 11, 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/balanced/201907/defining-moderate-drinking

Harvard Health Publishing. Moderate drinking - and how to keep it that way. August 2011. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/moderate-drinking-and-how-to-keep-it-that-way

Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/drinks-to-consume-in-moderation/alcohol-full-story/#what_is_moderate

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Underage Drinking. October 2020. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/underage-drinking

Return from Moderate Drinking Guidelines to Signs of Alcoholism 

Return from Moderate Drinking Guidelines to Alcoholism Help Homepage

Alcoholism Help Homepage | What is Alcoholism | Signs of Alcoholism | Alcoholism Tests | Alcohol Abuse Effects | Living with an Addict | Alcoholism Recovery | The AA Way| Alcoholism Cure| Alcoholism Medication | My Story | Alcoholism Guide Blog | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.