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Excessive Drinking

Does your drinking put you at risk?

Guidelines for low-risk drinking are based on the average level of consumption that increases the chance of illness, injury, or death.  Every human body is different but in general health risks increase at the following levels.

For men:
  • Excessive drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2-hour period, or
  • More than 14 drinks in a week.
For women and people 65 and older:
  • Excessive drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2-hour period, or
  • More than 7 drinks in a week.
  • Note: There is no known safe level of alcohol consumption when pregnant.
What counts as one drink?
  • A 12-oz. glass, bottle, or can of beer or ale
  • A 5-oz. glass of wine, or a 3.5-oz. glass of fortified wine
  • A 1.5-oz. “shot” of distilled liquor or brandy (many mixed drinks contain more than one shot)
One in five New Yorkers drinks more than these low-risk amounts. 

 More than 1,700 New Yorkers die from alcohol related causes each year.  One in ten hospitalizations in New York City is alcohol- related. 

Alcohol can contribute to disputes, assaults, and unwanted sexual advances.  Excessive drinkers are more likely to report being harmed by other drinkers than are non-drinkers. 

Most risky drinkers can cut back by using strategies such as alternating drinks with water, agreeing on a limit with friends, or choosing different social activities.

If you have difficulty cutting back, help is available.  Speak to your primary care doctor or another health professional.

Excessive drinking Is dangerous.

It increases the risk of many problems, such as:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Depression and other mental health problems
  • Suicide
  • Losing one’s temper, inlcuding become physically aggressive
  • Cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver
  • Hepatitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Hypertension
  • Enlarged heart or weakening of the heart muscle
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast, and colon
  • Weakened immune system
  • Pneumonia and other infections
  • Dementia
  • Sleep problems
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