Skip to main content

Familiarize yourself with the facts about alcohol before you choose to drink. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine and liquor. When consumed, alcohol affects every organ in the body. The intensity of the effect of alcohol on the body is directly related to the amount consumed.

How much is too much?

Any amount of alcohol is too much if you are:

  • Pregnant or might be pregnant
  • Under the legal age for drinking
  • Facing certain medical conditions or are taking certain medications that can interact with alcohol
  • Recovering from an alcohol use disorder or unable to control the amount you drink
  • Planning to drive

Moderate drinking is defined as having 1 drink or less per day for women and 2 drinks or less per day for men.

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking, heavy drinking, any alcohol use by people under the age 21 minimum legal drinking age, and any alcohol use by pregnant women.

Heavy drinking for women is defined as 8 drinks or more per week and for men as 15 or more drinks per week.

Binge drinking is defined as drinking up to 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men, bringing the blood alcohol level up to 0.08% in about two hours. In Washington, driving with 0.08% blood alcohol level is considered drunk driving! Risks of binge drinking include:

  • Unintentional injuries such as car crashes, falls, burns and alcohol poisoning
  • Violence including homicide, suicide, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unintended pregnancy and poor pregnancy outcomes
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Sudden infant death syndrome
  • Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and liver disease
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon
  • Memory and learning problems
  • Missing classes, falling behind, doing poorly on exams and papers, lower grades
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Making unwise choices

Remember, drinking nothing is always an option.

Information on this page is sourced from