Canada Has New Guidance on Alcohol

Canada has new guidance on alcohol and your health. We want you to be able to make the most informed decisions you can about drinking alcohol. Any reduction in the amount you drink can help improve your health.
It’s your right to know.
New research shows a strong association between drinking and an elevated risk to your health, including premature death from a wide range of diseases and other alcohol-caused harms. No amount of alcohol is good for your health. It doesn’t matter what kind of alcohol it is — wine, beer, cider or spirits. That’s why if you drink, consider drinking less.

Why drink less? Drinking less lowers your risks

Drinking alcohol creates a continuum of risk. Your lifetime risk for health issues, injuries, social issues and premature death increases as the amount of alcohol you consume increases. It continues to add up over a lifetime.
We know that many people will still choose to drink alcohol after learning this information. Like all health information, it’s your right to know. Something good to know about this evidence is that every drink counts: any reduction in alcohol use has benefits. That’s why Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health’s main recommendation is simply this: To lower your risks, think about reducing the amount of alcohol you drink.
If you are going to drink, don’t exceed 2 drinks on any day. Drinking less benefits both you and others. It reduces your risk of injury and violence, and many health problems that can shorten life.

What’s a Standard Drink?

It can be hard to know what a “standard drink” means. The measurement of a standard drink varies in different countries. Different types of drinks and popular container sizes contain different amounts of alcohol. It’s important to keep in mind how many “standard drinks” are in the beverages you consume to understand how much alcohol you’re drinking. A standard drink is calculated by both drink size and the percentage of alcohol in it.
The measurement of a standard drink varies in different countries.
In Canada, a standard drink is:
– a bottle of beer, 341 ml (12 oz.), 5% alcohol;
– a can of cider, 341 ml (12 oz.), 5% alcohol;
– a glass of wine, 142 ml (5 oz.), 12% alcohol; or
– a shot glass of spirits, 43 ml (1.5 oz.), 40% alcohol.

Consider Drinking Less

You can reduce your drinking in steps! Remember, any reduction helps lower your health risks. Every little bit counts.
There are simple things that can help you drink at a level that’s right for you:

  • Stick to the limits you’ve set for yourself.
  • Drink slowly.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • For every drink of alcohol, have one non-alcoholic drink.
  • Consider alcohol-free or low-alcohol beverages.
  • Eat before and while you’re drinking.
  • Explore alcohol-free weeks or do alcohol-free activities.

If you’re concerned about your drinking, ask a healthcare professional for help.

Demographics and Alcohol

Alcohol and Sex and Gender

Health risks increase more quickly at 7 or more standard drinks per week for females. Overall, far more injuries, violence and deaths result from men’s drinking.

Alcohol and Trying to Get Pregnant, Pregnancy or Breastfeeding

When trying to get pregnant or during pregnancy, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use. When breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest.

Alcohol and Youth

Drinking is a leading cause of death and social issues in young people. Intoxication is associated with:
– High risk of injuries
– Aggression and violence
– Dating violence
– Worsening academic performance

Youth under the legal drinking age should delay drinking for as long as possible.

When Zero Is the Limit

Images of common drinks are shown with an X through them.

In some circumstances, not drinking alcohol is safest. For example, when:
– Driving a motor vehicle;
– Using machinery and tools;
– Taking medication or other drugs that interact with alcohol;
– Doing any kind of dangerous physical activity;
– Being responsible for the safety of others; and
– Making important decisions.

About Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health

Drinks of different sizes are shown. A tumbler glass, a wine glass, a pint, a tall boy.

In January 2023, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) published Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health to provide people living in Canada with information to make well-informed decisions about their alcohol consumption.
The development of Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health followed a rigorous and transparent approach to assess the impact of various levels of alcohol use on disabilities and deaths from a wide range of diseases and other alcohol-caused harms. Its analyses were conducted by a panel of 23 experts from 16 different organizations, based on the most recent data and methods.

Additional Resources on Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health

If you want more information, please visit:
CCSA’s Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health FAQs
CCSA’s Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health Communications Toolkit
CCSA’s Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health webpage

Learn more about Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health

Scroll to Top