13. What is a safe level of drinking?

For most adults, moderate alcohol use--up to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women and older people--causes few if any problems. (One drink equals one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.)

Certain people should not drink at all, however:

    • Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
    • People who plan to drive or engage in other activities that require alertness and skill (such as driving a car)
    • People taking certain over-the-counter or prescription medications
    • People with medical conditions that can be made worse by drinking
    • Recovering alcoholics
    • People younger than age 21

(See also "Publications" Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol With Medicines and Drinking and Your Pregnancy; Alcohol Alert No. 27: Alcohol-Medication Interactions; Alcohol Alert No 50: Fetal Alcohol Exposure and the Brain; and Alcohol Alert No. 52: Alcohol and Transportation Safety)