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The more you drink, not surprisingly, the greater your risk to develop an alcohol abuse disorder (alcohol abuse or alcoholism).

However, since most of us gauge our drinking by comparing our habits to those around us, we don’t always have an accurate read on what normal and moderate drinking truly means – How much do you need to drink before your drinking becomes abnormal and risky anyway?

If you associate with people who consume a great deal of alcohol each week, you may think that your habits are very moderate, but when you compare your habits to national averages, you may find that you too drink far more than is healthy.

To get a better idea of how your drinking compares to the rest of the country’s, here is some brief information on how much Americans drink, and the risks associated with different levels of drinking.

Recommended daily allowances:

Based on standard drinks, which equate to a 12 ounce regular strength beer, 8 or 9 ounces of malt liquor (a 12 ounce bottle counts as a drink and a half) a small 5 ounce glass of 12% alcohol wine or 1.5 ounces of 40% alcohol liquor.

  • Men should not exceed 4 drinks in one day and 14 drinks in a week.
  • Women should not exceed 3 drinks in any day and 7 drinks per week.

How Much Americans Drink

  • 72% of Americans never exceed the recommended daily and weekly alcohol allowances. People in this category have a less than 1% chance of ever developing an alcohol abuse disorder.
  • 16% of Americans sometimes exceed the daily recommended maximums. 80% of people in this category exceed the daily maximums less than once a week, on average. People in this category have a 20% chance of ever developing an alcohol abuse disorder.
  • 10% of Americans sometimes exceed both the daily and weekly recommended alcohol limits. 80% of people in this category typically exceed their recommended daily maximum more than once per week. People in this category have an almost 50% chance of ever developing an alcohol abuse disorder.1
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Page last updated Oct 11, 2011

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