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Alcohol & Drugs

Whether you drink regularly or only on special occasions, we want to help you reduce your risk from alcohol.

In this section you will find information on:

Low-risk drinking guidelines

If you choose to drink alcohol, Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can help you decide when, where, and how you drink. They’re designed to help adults reduce their risk of injuries and diseases caused by drinking.

Canada's Low Risk Drinking Guidelines poster

Watch this short animated video about Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines to learn more about:

  • What is a “standard drink”?
  • Guidelines to follow to reduce your risks associated with alcohol
  • When it is important not to drink

Health risks and benefits of alcohol

Moderate alcohol consumption (approximately one drink per day) can have some health benefits for men and women over 45 years of age against some forms of heart disease and diabetes. However, drinking more than is stated in the guidelines cancels any potential health benefits.

If you currently do not drink alcohol, do not start drinking for heart health. You can reduce your chances of heart disease by not smoking, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

Drinking, even moderately, increases your risk of cancer.  If you’re concerned about your cancer risk, limit your drinking to less than 1 drink per day for women and less than 2 drinks per day for men.

Remember: the low-risk drinking guidelines set limits for drinking, not targets. You shouldn’t increase or maintain your drinking to reach the upper limits.

Tips for safer drinking

  • Set your own drinking limits and stick to them
  • Drink slowly, have no more than 2 drinks in any 3 hours
  • For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink
  • Eat before and while you are drinking
  • Consider your age, body weight and health problems that might suggest lower limits

Alcohol and other substances

Energy Drinks

Mixing caffeinated drinks with alcohol is risky. People who mix alcohol and caffeinated energy drinks tend to drink more alcohol quicker, so they are more likely to become impaired. The caffeine in energy drinks can mask some of the subjective effects of intoxication, so you might not realize how intoxicated you are. You might think you’re fine to drive or do other activities which require alertness and coordination when you’re actually impaired.


Don’t use alcohol and/ or marijuana and drive. The sedative effect of alcohol is enhanced when used with marijuana. Combining these two substances and then driving greatly increases your chance of being involved a motor vehicle collision. 

When you shouldn't drink at all

Zero is the safest number of drinks if you’re:

  • Pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or about to breastfeed
  • Driving a vehicle or using machinery and tools
  • Taking medicine or other drugs that interact with alcohol
  • Doing any kind of dangerous physical activity
  • Living with mental or physical health problems
  • Living with alcohol dependence
  • Responsible for the safety of others
  • Making important decisions

Is your drinking in check?

For confidential, personalized feedback on your drinking, take the online Check Your Drinking quiz. It will give you information on your drinking patterns, risk of alcohol-related harm, how long it would take you to burn off a standard drink, sensible drinking, and what you can do to reduce your risks from drinking.

If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s drinking, talk to your doctor or call the local mental health and addictions line HERE 24/7 at 1-844-HERE-274 (1-844-437-3247).

If you want to reduce your drinking or quit drinking, and have an iPhone, the Saying When app might help. You can download it from the iTunes store.