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Australian guidelines for drinking alcohol

The National Health and Medical Research Council has developed Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol.

Alcohol and young people

  • For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.
  • Children under 15 years of age should not drink any alcohol at all.
  • For young people aged 15-17 years, it is recommended that initiation to alcohol be delayed for as long as possible.

Alcohol can affect brain development and lead to alcohol-related problems in later life.

Reducing the risk of injury

  • When you drink, the risk of short term harm increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
  • To reduce this risk, healthy adult men and women should drink no more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion.

Reducing the risk of lifetime alcohol-related harms

  • Regular drinking increases the risk of long term harms such as disease and injury.
  • To reduce this risk, healthy adult men and women should drink no more than 2 standard drinks on any day.

Pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Drinking alcohol while pregnant or breastfeeding can harm the developing fetus or baby.
  • For women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, not drinking any alcohol is the safest option.

Binge drinking

Binge drinking can mean different things to different people and can be defined in a variety of ways. All definitions below are correct:
  • Drinking more than the recommended level for adults (more than 4 standard drinks on any one occasion).
  • Drinking continuously over a number of days or weeks.
  • Occasional and irregular sessions of heavy drinking.
  • Deliberately drinking to get drunk.

  • Australian standard drinks guide

    Do you know what a standard drink looks like?
    Most people don't actually know what a standard drink is or how it is measured.

    It is difficult to tell how much alcohol you are drinking because different types of alcoholic drinks contain different amounts of pure alcohol.

    It is important to remember that alcohol is not always served as a standard drink. Pre-mixed spirits and free poured drinks often contain more than one standard drink.

    Use the calculator to count how many standard drinks you had when you last drank alcohol.

What’s a standard drink?
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It is important to remember that alcohol is not always served as a standard drink. Pre-mixed spirits and free poured drinks often contain more than one standard drink.
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Try The Standard Drinks Calculator