What is moderate drinking?

There is agreement in the scientific community about what defines "moderate drinking." It's no more than 3-4 standard drinks per drinking episode, no more than 9 drinks per week for women and 12-14 for men. Also, moderate drinking means limiting how fast you drink and, as a result, keeping your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below .055 (.08 is the DWI limit in all states in the U.S.).

A standard drink is equal to

  • a 12 oz (355 ml.) beer with 5% alcohol (average for most U.S. beers).
  • A 5 oz. (150 ml.) glass of wine (12.5% alcohol).
  • 1.5 oz. (45 ml.) of 80 proof liquor (40% alcohol).

This program will ask you to set limits on both your number of drinks per episode and your BACs. It will also show you how to calculate your BACs and it will calculate your BACs when you enter your drinking card information into the program..

This definition of moderate drinking prevents you from getting drunk. Moderate drinkers don't drink to get drunk. Now if your idea of moderate drinking is a 6 pack instead of a 12 pack, this would suggest that you drink with some pretty heavy drinkers. Drinking a 6 pack of beer is heavy drinking.

Some heavy drinkers who've experienced problems from their drinking can learn how to moderate their drinking. They can maintain moderate drinking for years at a time. Others cannot. So who's more likely to be successful at moderation? Drinkers with a shorter history of problems and less severe problems tend to be more successful with cutting back and maintaining it. Drinkers who believe that alcoholism is a bad habit rather than a disease tend to do better with moderation.

Most importantly, you must first decide whether you want to stop having alcohol-related problems. If you're not sure, consider our other web site, the Drinker's Check-up. There you can take a good look at your drinking and get objective feedback. Then you can decide whether or not to change.

If you're thinking about moderate drinking for yourself, there's a few things to think about.

1. If you've had significant alcohol-related problems and are currently not drinking, trying moderate drinking may put you at risk again for alcohol-related problems.

2. If you're currently drinking more than the guidelines of moderation, you will reduce your risk for problems by cutting back.