Excessive Drinking

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just one more drink

Drinking too much alcohol can cause physical and emotional damage to you, your friends and your family. One out of every six New Yorkers drinks more than the recommended guidelines described below, and alcohol leads to nearly 1,800 deaths in the city each year.

If you are an excessive drinker, there are steps you can take to cut back and lower your health risks.

Drinking Guidelines

While everyone is different, these recommended guidelines are designed for you to stop drinking before you increase your risk of illness, injury or death.

Men ages 64 and younger

  • No more than four drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2-hour period
  • No more than 14 drinks per week

Women of all ages and men 65 and older

  • No more than three drinks in a short period of time, such as a 2-hour period
  • No more than seven drinks per week

You should not drink at all if you are:

  • Taking medications that interact with alcohol
  • Younger than 21
  • Pregnant or trying to get pregnant — there is no level of alcohol consumption known to be safe during pregnancy

Defining One Drink

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine, or 3.5 ounces of fortified wine
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled liquor or brandy (many mixed drinks contain more than this amount)

Tips to Drink Less

If you are an excessive drinker and want to cut back, you can get help from the City, your primary care doctor or another health professional.

Here are a few tips to make it easier to drink less:

  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water.
  • Eat food while you are drinking.
  • Set a limit with your friends before you start drinking and keep to it.
  • Try new social activities that don't involve drinking, such as meeting a friend at a book store or in a park.
  • Avoid people and settings that trigger an urge to drink.

Health Risks

If you drink excessively, you are at an increased risk for:

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Depression, dementia and other mental health problems
  • Sleep problems
  • Suicide
  • Losing your temper, possibly leading to physical aggression
  • Weakened immune system
  • Pneumonia and other infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Enlarged heart or weakening of the heart muscle
  • Cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver
  • Hepatitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast and colon

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