Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention and Educational Services

Minimizing & Avoiding Health Risks

Minimizing & Avoiding Health Risks

The following research-based drinking guidelines will help you lower your risk for health and safety problems related to drinking:

  • Zero

    Abstinence is always a safe choice!

    Some simply have no desire to experience the effects of alcohol and some abstain because of their religious beliefs. Others abstain for discreet periods of time. These are some of the people/situations where ‘zero’ is the best or the only legal option:

    • people who must drive
    • people with diabetes 
    • individuals under age 21
      • Drinking underage can lead to negative consequences such as: changes in brain development that may have long-term effects, alcohol dependence later in life, legal problems, and negative consequences with the university.
    • people cutting down on empty calories
    • women who are pregnant and those who suspect they are pregnant
    • alcoholics
    • people with a strong family history of addiction
    • people taking certain medications (e.g., sleeping pills or pain medication)
  • One

    One = Stick to one drink per hour at the max

    “One drink” equals either one 12-ounce beer (5% alcohol), one 5-ounce glass of table wine (12% alcohol) or a mixed drink that contains 1.5 fl oz of hard liquor (40% alcohol). By keeping the pace to one drink per hour, your alcohol intake will not exceed your body’s ability to metabolize the alcohol. For more information on what counts as a standard drink, visit: 

  • Three

    Three = No more than 3 drinks on a given day

    Research shows that when drinking exceeds this level, negative health effects are more likely. Drinking more than this causes cognitive impairment that is linked to a host of problems. These problems include arguments, hangovers, regretted and unprotected sex.

  • Women and Alcohol
  • Women often become impaired from drinking more quickly than men and their impairment lasts longer. This is because women's bodies generally have lower water content. Due to alcohol mixing with body water, a given amount of alcohol is more concentrated in a woman's body than in a man's. Even if a man and a woman weigh the same and drink the same amount, the alcohol in the woman's bloodstream typically reaches a higher level. Additionally, because women experience heightened drinking impairment shortly prior to menstruation, abstaining or drinking fewer than 3 drinks is advisable during that time.