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Rethinking Your Drinking

How to set healthy limits for your drinking

If you are of legal drinking age, going out with friends on special occasions for one or two adult beverages is perfectly acceptable. There are healthy limits when drinking alcohol, generally no more than one drink a day and seven drinks in a week for women and people over 64, and no more than two drinks a day and 14 in a week for men under 65.

If you choose to drink socially with family and friends, remember the healthy limits for drinking alcohol. If your drinking is creating problems (e.g., hangovers, problems with friends and family, interfering with work or school), you might ask yourself: "What impact is alcohol having on my life?"

Luckily, there are ways you can stay within these healthy limits:

  • Before going out, make a mental note to yourself to drink within healthy limits.

  • Set a limit of one to two beverages per drinking occasion -- and keep track.

  • Switch between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Consider limiting the number of nights per week that you drink alcohol to no more than one or two nights a week. Develop ways to enjoy time with friends that don't involve alcohol.

  • Think about other ideas that might work well for you. You are more likely to follow your personal goals and plans.

There are lots of options for help, including measuring your levels with a short, anonymous screening test on My HealtheVet (results are not recorded). Some people decide they are drinking at unhealthy levels. They may limit themselves successfully or stop altogether on their own. Others find they want help. There are many resources available in the VA, the community, and online to help you reduce risky drinking. Alcohol dependence can be treated. Risky drinking can be limited. Effective treatments include one-to-one counseling, group treatments, medications to reduce craving or prevent relapse, and inpatient or residential treatment. Learn the basic facts so you can 'Limit Alcohol.'

Remember you can always talk to your health care provider if you have more questions about limiting your alcohol use.

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Alcohol Use Screening 

Updated April 6, 2021