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Australian alcohol guidelines

The Australian Alcohol Guidelines provide information for Australians on reducing risks to health from drinking alcohol.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) publishes guidelines for reducing the health risks of drinking alcohol.

The four basic recommendations can be summarised as follows:

  • To reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm over a lifetime (such as chronic disease or injury), a healthy adult should drink no more than two standard drinks a day.
  • To reduce the risks of injury on a single occasion of drinking (such as injuries under the influence of alcohol), a healthy adult should drink no more than four standard drinks on any one occasion. (No distinction is made between men and women in this recommendation. Although women may become intoxicated more easily, men are at greater risk because they are more likely to engage in risky behaviour.)
  • For people under 18, not drinking is the safest option. For young people aged 15-17 years, delaying the start of alcohol consumption for as long as possible is the safest option. If younger people do drink it should be at a low risk level, in a safe and supervised environment.
  • Women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breast feeding should not drink at all. The greatest harm to the foetus or breastfeeding infant occurs when drinking is at high and frequent levels, but no level of drinking is considered safe.

The guidelines do not mean that any drinking is recommended. In fact they suggest that there is no universally safe level of drinking.