Plan ahead

Plan ahead. Make a plan for the evening, including how much you plan to drink and safe arrangements for getting from place to place. Then, stick to it.

Check out our blood-alcohol calculator >

Starting a family

If you are starting a family, speak with your healthcare provider about your specific situation to identify what is right for you.

Learn more about family planning >

Set your own limit

To be responsible, you cannot rely on the legal limit alone. If you choose to drink, your own limit may be a lot lower than the legal limit. You should consider how drinking affects you at the time you begin a risky activity, as well as its general effect on you.

See our recommendations on setting limits >

Know your family history

If you come from a family with a history of alcohol or other dependence problems, you should be particularly careful about your drinking decisions.

Learn how family history affects you >
“Pace yourself. Drink at a reasonable rate considering how your body processes alcohol. On average, a person metabolizes 10-12g of alcohol an hour.”

True or false?

Hover to reveal answer

If I eat a lot of greasy food, I can drink more. FALSE

It is true that foods, particularly those higher in fat, slow the absorption rate of alcohol. This happens because eating closes the valve between your stomach and intestines, where the alcohol is absorbed more quickly than in your stomach. But eventually, the alcohol will be absorbed and your body can only metabolize a certain amount of alcohol each hour. On average, a person metabolizes 10-12g of alcohol an hour. Eating before or while drinking is a good plan to control how fast alcohol enters into your body, but it will not protect you from excessive drinking.

While the caffeine in coffee may make you more awake, it does not change the effect of alcohol on your coordination, reaction time, and judgment. To sober up, you need time. Your body can metabolize only a certain amount of alcohol each hour, so how much you drink will determine how many hours need to pass until you are sober. If you drink to excess your body may still contain significant amounts of alcohol well after you stop drinking.

Energy drinks contain caffeine and may contain other stimulants, which make you less sleepy when you drink. As with coffee, energy drinks do not change how alcohol affects your body. You will still suffer the consequences of excessive drinking. Furthermore, some emerging studies indicate that drinking high levels of caffeine mixed with alcohol may increase risky behaviors, such as binge drinking, as well as the side effects of caffeine resulting in heart palpitations and insomnia.

Over-the-counter and prescription medications often interact with alcohol in ways you might not expect. The effects can be disorienting or even dangerous to your health. If you are on medications, you should get advice from your healthcare provider or pharmacist before you add alcohol to the mix.

This combination is high-risk. The interactions between illegal drugs and alcohol may increase your impairment and result in serious negative legal, social, and health consequences.


Did you know?

When you drink an alcohol beverage, it immediately begins to be absorbed into your bloodstream, partly from your stomach and more actively from your small intestine.

Compared to men, women have a lower portion of their bodies that is water-based and can therefore reach a higher BAC more quickly from consuming the same amount of alcohol.

“Drink non-alcohol beverages. A good plan is to drink water or another non-alcohol beverage between each drink containing alcohol.”

Latest insights

What is an alcohol beverage?

An alcohol beverage is simply any drink that contains more than a minimal amount of ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Beer, wine, and spirits all start with a process called fermentation, which is the natural result of yeast digestion of the sugars found in ingredients like fruit, cereal grains, or other starches. Fermentation results in two substances:  ethanol and carbon dioxide. Ethanol is the alcohol people drink, but there are other types of alcohol that may be harmful or even fatal…

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How much alcohol is in my drink?

The amount of alcohol in your drink is determined by the concentration of alcohol in the product you choose and the size of your drink. Drink strength. Drinks vary considerably in their alcohol concentration or strength. Different countries measure alcohol strength in different ways. In most places, the concentration is measured as the percentage of pure alcohol in the product by its volume. This measure is called alcohol by volume, or ABV. In some countries, this percentage is also called “degrees” of…

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The nutrition story

Some people think that drinks are empty calories, but that is not the whole story. Beer, wine, and spirits do have calories. There are about 7 calories in one gram of pure ethanol. There may be additional calories in your drink from flavorings, residual or added sugars, and proteins. Calories from alcohol are not as efficiently metabolized as those from food, and the question of whether or not light drinking increases obesity is unclear. Still, you should consider the calories you receive from…

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