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Alcohol can be an enjoyable part of life. It's part of many people's lives and may have a place in cultural and family traditions. Many people enjoy drinking alcohol, and most people usually do it safely. But it's okay to decide not to drink.
If you choose to drink alcohol, the key is to keep your drinking at the safest possible levels, called low-risk drinking. It's important to remember that drinking alcohol is not risk-free.
Plan to stay within the alcohol limits recommended in Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines to lower your risk of harm. Canadian health experts recommend that:
Every now and then you may want to drink more than the limits above. To lower your risk of injury and harm:
Keep in mind that alcohol can affect people differently. How alcohol affects you is related to things like age, sex, weight, and health history. You need to be even more careful about how much alcohol you drink if you:
Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines are based on a "standard" drink. All standard drinks have the same amount of alcohol. A standard drink is a:
Less than half of Alberta teens in Grades 7 to 12 drink alcohol. But when they drink, most will “binge drink”. This means drinking 5 or more standard drinks in a day. Alcohol can harm the way your body and brain develop. Teens should talk with their parents about drinking. If they choose to drink, they should have a parent with them and never drink more than 1 to 2 drinks at a time or more than 1 to 2 times a week. Always plan ahead and follow the local alcohol laws. For more information on youth and drinking, visit Youth Substance Use: Information for Parents
Don't drink alcohol if you're:
Drinking alcohol may raise your risk of:
When you drink alcohol, you put your health and safety at risk. You raise your risk of harm with each drink that you have. And your risk of harm goes up even higher the more often you drink amounts of alcohol above the low-risk drinking guidelines.
Drinking low to moderate levels of alcohol (1 to 2 standard drinks a day) may help protect against certain types of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in people over the age of 45. But these possible health benefits lessen with each drink you have. If you don't drink, don't start drinking now to lower your risk. There are many other ways to lower your risk of health problems, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, staying at a healthy weight, and not smoking. Talk to your doctor about the effects of drinking alcohol on your health.
It can sometimes be hard to know when you begin to drink too much.
You are at risk of drinking too much if you are:
If you think you might have a drinking problem, take this short quiz:
One of the signs of an alcohol use problem is that you keep drinking even though you know your drinking is causing problems in your life. Another sign that you might have a problem is if you often have a strong need or craving to drink.
Here are some other signs:
Some people who want to cut back on or stop drinking are able to do so on their own. But others may need help.
If you're worried about your health and want to cut back on or stop drinking, ask your family, friends, or doctor for help. Or join a support group such as LifeRing or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Your family members might want to attend a support group such as Al-Anon or Alateen.
In some provinces, there are telephone helplines you can call for support and to find out what resources are available in your area that can help you manage your alcohol use problem.
To get some tips on how to cut back on drinking, see:
If you're still finding it hard to cut back on or stop drinking on your own, or if these support services don't help, you may need medical help. This is especially important if you have withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back on or stop drinking. Symptoms of withdrawal may include sweating and feeling sick to your stomach, feeling shaky, and feeling anxious.
Talk to your doctor about whether you need treatment for your drinking problem. In many cases, treatment may focus on helping you reduce your drinking to low-risk levels rather than stopping completely. You and your doctor can decide what treatment approach is best for you.
Some treatment approaches may involve:
If you feel that you have an alcohol use problem, get help. The earlier you get help, the easier it will be to cut back on or stop drinking.
If you choose to drink, here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of getting sick or injured:
If you know someone who drinks too much or puts himself or herself in situations where risky drinking is going to occur (such as at a bar or party), here are some things you can do to help reduce that person's risk of harm. You can:
If you know someone who is homeless and has struggled with a severe alcohol problem for many years and hasn't been able to stay sober despite getting treatment, find out if there is a managed alcohol program in your area that can help. This type of program offers people a place to stay while they get treatment.
Whether you drink a little or a lot, it's important to have a healthy lifestyle. Here are some things you can do to stay healthy:
Adaptation Date: 4/1/2020
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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