How much alcohol can you safely drink each day? Here's what Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines recommend:

  • for women, no more than 2 drinks per day (or 3 on special occasions), to a maximum of 10 drinks per week
  • for men, no more than 3 drinks per day (or 4 on special occasions), to a maximum of 15 drinks per week

But what is a "drink"? It depends on the alcohol content of the beverage. Whatever you're drinking, one "drink" is the amount that will have 0.6 ounces (17 mL) of alcohol in it. Since different alcoholic beverages have different alcohol content, the actual amount of beverage will naturally be different too. You can use the following as a rough guide to estimate the size of a drink for various alcoholic beverages:

Percentage alcohol

Examples

Volume of "a drink"

5%

Beer, cooler

12 ounces or 341 mL

12%

Wine

5 ounces or 142 mL

40%

Rum, gin, vodka, whiskey

1.5 ounces or 43 mL

However, the exact alcoholic content may differ even between the same type of alcoholic drink. If you're drinking a craft beer, for instance, it could have more alcohol by volume, and 8 ounces of 7.5% alcohol beer is one "drink" just the same as 12 ounces of 5% alcohol beer is. And a 500 mL bar "pint" of 5% alcohol beer is about one and a half drinks!

It's not just how much you drink, though. It's how you drink. Here are some additional tips for safe drinking:

  • Have a caffeine-free, non-alcohol drink for every drink of alcohol.
  • Have no more than 2 drinks in a 3-hour period.
  • Do not drink on an empty stomach. Eat before and while you drink.
  • Avoid drinking before risky activities (operating any kind of vehicle, tools, or machinery).
  • To reduce the risk of tolerance and to avoid making a habit of drinking, include some non-drinking days.

People with medical conditions or who are on medications should check with their health care providers, as they may be subject to different recommendations. Also, factors such as your age, weight, and alcohol tolerance should be considered when determining your alcohol limits.