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Drinking alcohol is a personal choice. But if you choose to drink, you should know what the risks are when it comes to consuming alcohol and know what you can do to decrease those risks.

Canada's Guidance on Alcohol and Health

Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health provides evidence-based advice on alcohol to support people in making informed decisions about their health. The guidance is based on the latest research on alcohol-related risks and replaces Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs) issued in 2011.

The guidance is based on the principle of autonomy in harm reduction and the fundamental idea behind it that people living in Canada have a right to know that all alcohol use comes with risk.

Key points from the guidance include:

  • There is a continuum of risk associated with weekly alcohol use where the risk of harm is:
    • 0 drinks per week — Not drinking has benefits, such as better health, and better sleep.
    • 2 standard drinks or less per week — You are likely to avoid alcohol-related consequences for yourself or others at this level.
    • 3–6 standard drinks per week — Your risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer, increases at this level.
    • 7 standard drinks or more per week — Your risk of heart disease or stroke increases significantly at this level.
    • Each additional standard drink radically increases the risk of alcohol-related consequences.
  • Consuming more than 2 standard drinks per occasion is associated with an increased risk of harms to self and others, including injuries and violence.
  • When pregnant or trying to get pregnant, there is no known safe amount of alcohol use.
  • When breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is safest.
  • No matter where you are on the continuum, for your health, less alcohol is better.

Communications Toolkit: Canada's Guidance on Alcohol and Health

Alcohol and Parenting

Alcohol is the drug most often used by students in Grades 7 to 12. Rates of alcohol use are significantly higher in the north and chances are high that your child will be exposed to alcohol in some way during his or her school years. As parents or guardians, you can help to prevent or delay your child’s use of alcohol. For more information on how to talk with your child, check out these informative resources to prevent the risks related to substance use by your child.