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How much alcohol is safe to drink?

It’s never completely safe

Alcohol affects everyone.

How much you drink is your choice, but you should know that drinking is never free of risk. The more you drink, the greater the risk to your health.

To understand the risks, read about the effects of alcohol.

Guidelines to reduce your risk

To reduce your risk when you drink alcohol, follow the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks. These guidelines are based on scientific research and evidence.


If you’re a healthy adult:

  • on any day, you should not drink more than 2 standard drinks — this will reduce your risk of alcohol-related disease or injury over your lifetime
  • on a single occasion, you should not drink more than 4 standard drinks over several hours — this will reduce your risk of injury and death on that occasion

A standard drink contains 10g of alcohol. Many drinks have more than 1 standard drink in them. Check the label on your bottle or container to see how many standard drinks are in it.

Children and young people

Not drinking is the safest option for people under 18 years of age.

This is especially important for children under 15. They are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking. Their brain, heart and liver aren’t fully developed so they can’t process alcohol as quickly as adults.

For young people aged 15 to 17 years, delay drinking for as long as possible.

Find out more about alcohol and young people.

Pregnant women

Not drinking is the safest option for women who are:

  • planning to become pregnant
  • pregnant
  • breastfeeding

Alcohol can harm unborn babies, newborns and breastfeeding babies.

Find out more about alcohol during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

How to drink more safely

For many people, it’s possible to enjoy alcohol and still drink at a level that is less risky. Read about how you can stay safe when drinking alcohol.

If you’re drinking a lot or finding it hard to control your drinking:

National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline contact

Call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline for free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs.

View contact

Last updated: 
26 February 2019