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Avoiding Risky Drinking

Drinking too much alcohol can put your health and safety at risk. For some people, drinking alcohol is a part of being social and having a good time. You may have even heard that light to moderate drinking can be good for the heart.¹

But alcohol is a powerful drug. Risks to heavy or long-term drinking include:

  • Links to many diseases, such as liver failure, breast cancer, and heart disease.
  • Injuries and falls.
  • Car accidents.
  • Drowning.
  • Unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Higher chance of having a stillborn, miscarriage, or having a baby with a physical or mental health problem that will last a life time.

How much is too much?

Many experts define heavy drinking as:

  • Men: More than 4 regular drinks in one day, or more than 14 a week.
  • Women: 3 regular drinks in one day, or more than 7 in one week.

Some people binge drink, which means they drink too much too fast. This raises their blood alcohol level over the legal limit. It only takes a few drinks to be over the legal limit.

Alcohol dependency or alcoholism is when someone craves the alcohol, or can’t control how many drinks they have. People with a dependency or alcoholism will feel withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop on their own.

Know that help is available if you feel you cannot stop on your own.  Call our Member Services number and they will assist you with finding the right provider.

Lowering your risk

  • If you drink, try to limit the number of drinks you have in one day.
  • Keep in mind what is "too much."
  • Don't drink every day, and if you don't drink, don't start.
  • You should not drink alcohol if you are:
    • Pregnant.
    • On medications that can interact with alcohol.
    • Have a mental or physical condition that can get worse with alcohol.

If you have questions about alcohol use, ask your physician or psychiatrist.

Tips to help you quit drinking alcohol

  • Avoid triggers, such as activities that you associate with alcohol or people that push or urge you to drink.
  • Enjoy non-drinking activities, such as working out, a new hobby, or talking to friends who don’t drink.
  • Practice saying "no thank you" so when you are offered a drink, you won’t hesitate to turn it down.
  • Don’t keep any alcohol in the house.
  • If you do drink, eat food with the alcohol. Food will slow the alcohol from getting in your stomach.
  • If you do drink, count and measure your drinks. Set a goal of how many drinks you will have and stick to it.

Remember, you can always talk with your doctor if you feel you cannot cut back or stop drinking. You can also call PerformCare to find out what treatment is available to you.


1 Avoiding Risky Drinking, Federal Occupational Health Publication 13.0052, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.