Alcohol and Your Health

It’s important to remember that harmful drinking can occur in the short-term (drinking too much on one occasion), or in the long-term (drinking too much on a regular basis).

In March 2009, the National Health and Medical Research Council 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.

The Guidelines also establish clear advice on how to minimise the harmful health consequences of regular alcohol consumption in both the short-term and the long-term (that is harm that may occur as a result of one drinking occasion and harm that may occur as a result of a longer period of drinking). There is no level of drinking that can be guaranteed to be completely safe.

Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol

GUIDELINE 1

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

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

GUIDELINE 3A

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.

GUIDELINE 3B

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

GUIDELINE 4A

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

GUIDELINE 4B

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