In Boulder County, more than 15 percent of residents regularly exceed the recommended alcohol limits. Drinking limits to maintain health (low-risk drinking limits) are:
- Women: No more than 3 drinks on any day, and no more than 7 drinks in a week.
- Men: No more than 4 drinks on any day, and no more than 14 drinks in a week.
To stay low risk, keep within both the daily and weekly limits. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding should not drink. Both men and women over the age of 65 should have no more than 3 drinks on any day and no more than 7 per week.
While there is some evidence that regular light to moderate drinking can be good for the heart, exceeding these limits outweighs any benefit, and increases risks, including:
- Health problems. Heavy drinkers have a greater risk of liver disease, heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke, bleeding from the stomach, sexually transmitted infections from unsafe sex, and several types of cancer. They may have problems managing diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions.
- Drinking too much increases the chance of being injured or even killed. Alcohol is a factor, for example, in about 60% of fatal burn injuries, drownings, and homicides; 50% of severe trauma injuries and sexual assaults; and 40% of fatal motor vehicle crashes, suicides, and fatal falls.
- Birth defects. Drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage and other serious problems in the baby. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not drink.
- Alcohol use disorders. Generally known as alcoholism and alcohol abuse, alcohol use disorders are medical conditions that doctors can diagnose when a patient’s drinking causes distress or harm. In the United States, about 18 million people have an alcohol use disorder.
Beyond these physical and mental health risks, frequent heavy drinking is also linked with personal problems, including losing a driver’s license and having relationship troubles.
Even within these limits, drinkers can have problems if they drink too quickly, have health problems, or are older (both men and women over 65 are generally advised to have no more than 3 drinks on any day and 7 per week). Some may need to drink less or not at all.