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Responsible Drinking

Making Decisions About Drinking

​​​​​​​You might choose to drink alcohol when you're out for social events. Alcohol might be part of special occasions with friends and family. However, it is important to be aware that you don’t need to drink alcohol to have fun.

You might choose not to drink if you:

  • are younger than 18
  • follow certain religious or spiritual practices
  • are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • are breastfeeding
  • take some types of medicine (e.g., sedative, painkiller)
  • need to drive (e.g., car, motorbike, boat, all-terrain vehicle, bike)
  • have a mental illness (alcohol can make depression worse and you can’t drink when you take some types of medicine)
  • have health challenges (e.g., high blood pressure, liver disease)
  • think you might have a drinking problem or you have a family history for drinking problems

You don't have to drink. Even if you choose to drink, it doesn't mean you have to drink at every occasion.

If You Choose Not to Drink

  • Know your reasons and don't feel you have to apologize for them.
  • Expect others to respect your choice.
  • Respect others who choose to drink.
  • Have a plan about what you can drink instead (e.g., juice, pop, water, etc.)

If You Choose to Drink

Each time you drink, ask yourself:

  • Will I have to drive?
  • Will I have to get up early the next day?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Am I pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant?

The effects of alcohol are different depending on the situation. Each time you drink, ask yourself:

  • Am I taking medicine or using drugs?
  • Have I eaten lately?
  • Am I ​feeling tired or angry?

If you're the host, you don’t always have to serve alcohol. There are many non-alcoholic choices to offer. If you're inviting someone recovering from alcohol dependency, you can help them stay in recovery if you don’t serve alcohol.

If you drink alcohol during a workday, it can cause problems. Alcohol:

  • affects how you concentrate
  • makes you sleepy
  • makes it unsafe to operate heavy machinery
  • impairs your judgment

Know your limit. If you drink too much, it's not safe or healthy. The part of the brain responsible for judgment ​is the first part affected by alcohol consumption.

When you drink, don't play sports. Drinking affects your judgment and reflexes. You're more likely to hurt yourself or others.

​Whether or Not You Choose to Drink

  • Be a positive role model. Take responsibility for your actions.
  • If a person’s drinking behavior isn't appropriate, tell them. Talk to the person you're concerned about. Don't judge.

All standard drinks have the same amount of alcohol. A standard drink is a:

  • 341 mL bottle of beer (5% alcohol)
  • 142 mL glass of wine (12% alcohol)
  • 43 mL shot of liquor (40% alcohol)

For more information and to find an addiction services office near you, call the 24-hour Help Line.

Current as of: May 12, 2017

Author: Addiction & Mental Health, Alberta Health Services