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Substance Abuse Services

Minimizing & Avoiding Health Risks

The following research-based drinking guidelines will help you lower your risk for health and safety problems related to drinking:

  • Zero

    Abstinence is always a safe choice!

    Some simply have no desire to experience the effects of alcohol and some abstain because of their religious beliefs. Others abstain for discreet periods of time. These are some of the people/situations where ‘zero’ is the best or the only legal option:

    • people who must drive
    • diabetics
    • individuals under age 21
    • people cutting down on empty calories
    • women who are pregnant and those who suspect they are pregnant
    • alcoholics
    • people with a strong family history of addiction
    • people taking certain medications (e.g., sleeping pills or pain medication)
  • One

    One = One drink per hour

    “One drink” means either one 12-ounce beer, one 4-ounce glass of wine or a mixed drink that contains one ounce of liquor. By keeping the pace to one drink per hour, your alcohol intake will not exceed your body’s ability to metabolize the alcohol.

  • Three

    Three = No more than 3 drinks on a given day

    Research shows that when drinking exceeds this level, negative health effects are more likely. Drinking more than this causes cognitive impairment that is linked to a host of problems. These problems include arguments, hangovers, regretted and unprotected sex.

    When drinking, it’s best to eat foods high in protein (e.g., meat, eggs or dairy products) since they slow the absorption of alcohol. Remember, women often become impaired from drinking more quickly than men and their impairment lasts longer. Because women experience heightened drinking impairment shortly prior to menstruation, abstaining or drinking fewer than 3 drinks is advisable during that time.

  • Mystery Drinks and Tall Boys

    Be wary of exotic and common container drinks (e.g. a Kama Kazi, a Sex-on-the-Beach, or trash can punch) which contain either large or unknown amounts of alcohol. When consuming them, it will be difficult to control your degree of impairment. It is also common to find drinks served in non-standard sized containers, for instance, a Tall boy or a pitcher of Margaritas. Sticking to standard sized drinks will also help you monitor your consumption.