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Logo: Rethinking Drinking - Alcohol and your health

How can you reduce your risks?

Options for reducing alcohol-related risks include --

  • Staying within low-risk drinking limits. If you need to cut down, see Tips to try.
  • Taking steps to be safe when you drink (see box, below).
  • Quitting drinking altogether. See Choose your approach.

For some people, staying within low-risk limits will be sufficient, whereas for others, it's best to quit. To help decide which route is right for you, see To cut down or quit.

If you sometimes drink more than the low-risk limits, but don't feel ready to make a change, see Pros and cons and Ready… or not. Don't wait for an injury or a crisis, however. When it comes to changing risky drinking, sooner is better than later.

Take steps to be safe

Alcohol is a factor in many motor vehicle crashes, falls, burns, drownings, suicides, homicides, sexual assaults, and transfers of sexually transmitted diseases. If you choose to drink, then stay within the low-risk limits and take whatever steps necessary to avoid putting yourself or others at risk for harm.

  • Pace yourself.   Sip slowly so that you have no more than one standard drink with alcohol per hour. Have "drink spacers"—make every other drink a non-alcoholic one, such as water, soda, or juice. Note that it takes about 2 hours for the adult body to completely break down a single drink.
  • Take precautions. Have a designated driver or take a cab. Use protection for sex. Don't use machinery, walk in a dangerous area, swim, or drive a boat during or after drinking. Don't drink if you're pregnant or could become pregnant. You get the idea: Be safe.