Know the Facts

Helping you make informed decisions about your drinking

Australian Alcohol Guidelines

Australia’s alcohol guidelines were published by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) based on a review of world research about the short-term and long-term effects of drinking. These guidelines help people to drink safely by suggesting levels of consumption that have been shown to be low-risk for injury or harm.

For healthy men and women...

Drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.

For both men and women, the lifetime risk of death from alcohol-related disease or injury remains below 1 in 100 if no more than two standard drinks are consumed on each drinking occasion, even if the drinking is daily.

Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.

As more alcohol is consumed on a single occasion, skills and inhibitions decrease while risky behaviour increases, leading to a greater risk of injury during or immediately after that occasion.

For people under 18...

Children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking and so, for this age group, not drinking alcohol is especially important.

Drinkers under the age of 15 years are much more likely than older drinkers to undertake risky or antisocial behaviour connected with their drinking. Alcohol may adversely affect brain development and lead to alcohol-related problems in later life.

For young people aged 15 to 17 years, the safest option is to delay the initiation of drinking for as long as possible.

Risky behaviour is more likely among drinkers aged 15 – 17 years than older drinkers. Alcohol may adversely affect brain development and lead to alcohol-related problems in later life. If drinking does occur in this age group, it should be at a low risk level and in a safe environment, supervised by adults.

For pregnant or breastfeeding women...

Not drinking is the safest option.

The potential risk of harm from alcohol for the developing fetus and for young babies during the breastfeeding period is highest when there is high, frequent maternal alcohol intake, but is likely to be low if a woman has consumed only small amounts of alcohol (such as one or two drinks per week) before she knew she was pregnant or during pregnancy.

Research evidence shows that alcohol may adversely affect lactation, infant behaviour (eg feeding) and psychomotor development of the breastfed baby.