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What Is A Standard Drink?

We know that drinking too much can harm your health. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that if adults (age 21 and older) choose to drink alcohol, drinking less is better for health than drinking more.

There is no known safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant.

What is a Standard Drink?

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content).
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content).
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content).
  • 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey, brandy).
What Is Excessive Drinking?

What is Excessive Drinking?

Signs of Drinking Too Much:

  • You drink more or longer than you intended.
  • You try to cut down or stop drinking, but are not able to.
  • You need to drink more than you once did, to get the effect you want.
  • You continue to drink even though it makes you feel depressed or anxious ― or adds to another health problem.
  • Loved ones or trusted friends have made comments about your drinking.
  • You spend a lot of time drinking or thinking about alcohol.
  • You find that drinking interferes with daily activities, family, friends, or work.
  • Or maybe…
    • You have had legal problems due to drinking.
    • You have experienced symptoms of withdrawal when you don’t drink (such as shakiness, sweating, tremors, headaches, anxiety, irritability, and/or insomnia).
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A 10-minute screening to look for signs of risk in yourself, your child, or someone you care about. Find it on the free “Talk. They Hear You.” app.

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Rethinking Drinking: Tools

Whether you're just starting to take a look at your drinking or have already decided to cut back or quit, you can use these helpful tools such as worksheets and calculators to help you create a plan.

Monitoring Your Alcohol Use Can Help You Prevent Excessive Drinking

Check Your Alcohol Use

  • Set a daily and weekly drinking limit.
  • Write down your limit and keep it with you.
  • Record how much you drink each day.
  • Avoid situations and triggers that cause you to drink.
  • Ask a friend to help you stay within your limit.
  • Talk with a doctor about your alcohol use.


There is treatment. It varies, based on a person’s needs. There are many choices today. Treatment can include counseling, medications, and/or mutual-support groups.

Alcohol Policies

Policies with the strongest evidence of reducing alcohol misuse and related harms are:

  • Regulating alcohol outlet density
  • Minimum legal purchase age
  • Limiting days or hours of sales
  • Increasing alcohol taxes
  • Minimum pricing
  • Limiting alcohol advertising and marketing
  • Dram shop (commercial host) liability laws

Learn about your state’s underage drinking prevention efforts and laws ― by reading your state’s report.


Individuals and Families

Parents and Caregivers


Community Members and Practitioners

Implementing Community-Level Policies to Prevent Alcohol Misuse PDF Cover

Implementing Community-Level Policies to Prevent Alcohol Misuse

This guide will serve as a compendium of key policies for the prevention of alcohol misuse.

Alcohol Use Among Girls and Young Women: A Worrying Trend PDF Cover

Alcohol Use Among Girls and Young Women: A Worrying Trend

This fact sheet provides data about trending alcohol use among girls and young women.

Find More

Find more resources on alcohol use and misuse on the SAMHSA Store.

Need Help?

For mental or substance use disorders, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, or text your zip code to 435748 (HELP4U), or use the to get help.

Last Updated
Last Updated: 06/06/2023
Last Updated