Alcohol & Your Health

Ongoing and regular alcohol consumption can lead to the damage of multiple organs. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommend no more than two standard drinks per day to reduce your risk of organ damage.

In March 2009, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. The 2009 Guidelines focus on health risks accumulating over a lifetime from alcohol use.

There is no level of drinking that can be guaranteed to be completely safe. To help you reduce health risks from drinking alcohol the Guidelines provide four recommendations. The Guidelines can help you make informed choices and help keep your risk of alcohol-related accidents, injuries, diseases and death, low – both in the short and long-term. [1]

Short-term harm is what may occur as a result of one (single) drinking occasion while long-term harm is what may occur as a result of regular and ongoing periods of drinking (lifetime risk).

 

Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol [1]

GUIDELINE 1: Reducing the risk of alcohol-harm over a lifetime

For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

GUIDELINE 2: Reducing the risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking

For healthy men and women, drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

GUIDELINE 3: Children and young people under 18 years of age

For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

A. Parents and carers should be advised that children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking and that for this age group, not drinking alcohol is especially important

B. For young people aged 15-17 years, the safest option is to delay the initiation of drinking for as long as possible.

GUIDELINE 4: Pregnancy and breastfeeding

A. For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.

B. For women who are breastfeeding not drinking is the safest option.

 


In this section:

What is a Standard Drink?

Tips for Staying Low-Risk

Alcohol & Your Long-Term Health

Alcohol & Short-Term Harm

The Festive Season


[1] National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009). Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol: Commonwealth of Australia. Available at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/ds10