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HealthInfo West Coast-Te Tai Poutini

Reducing your risks from drinking alcohol

New Zealand has a binge drinking culture. This means that many people accept harmful patterns of drinking as normal. But this does not change that fact that our bodies can only cope with a certain amount of alcohol before it starts to cause us problems.

No level of drinking can completely remove the risks of alcohol-related harm. But changing the way you drink may reduce the risks to you, your whānau (family) and your community.

Lower-risk drinking is considered to be no more than:

This is shown in the following graphic from the Te Hiringa Hauora Health Promotion Agency.

If you are an older person, you should probably drink less than this. See Alcohol & older people for more information.

Note. The current low-risk drinking advice was developed in 2011. A review of the low-risk drinking advice for Aotearoa New Zealand has been commissioned. In the meantime, the following are more recent guidelines from other jurisdictions: Canada's Guidance on Alcohol and Health (updated in 2023) and Australian Alcohol Guidelines revised (updated in 2020).

A standard drink

A standard drink is smaller than many people expect. In New Zealand, it is a drink that contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. Drinks poured at home or in a bar tend to be more than one standard drink.

When you should not drink

You should not drink if you:

Finding out how high-risk your drinking is

You can find out more about your drinking and whether you have a problem by doing this test.

Cutting down on drinking alcohol

Cutting down is not easy. But you are not alone. There are lots of ways you can start making changes now. Some ideas are:

See Helping myself with my alcohol or drug addiction.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by Health in All Policies Advisor, Community & Public Health, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2023.


See also:

Alcohol in pregnancy

Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol use in teens & young adults

Page reference: 358452

Review key: HIAAD-16539