According to guidelines from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), women should not have more than one drink per day and men should not have more than two. A standard drink by NIAAA guidelines is:


If you are consuming more than this amount, you may have an alcohol problem or be on your way to an alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol Effects

The short-term effects of alcohol can take place relatively quickly, as it is absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal track. The effects, known as intoxication, might include drowsiness, headache, slurred speech and impaired motor function. Other short-term effects might include stomach upset, vomiting and dizziness. If a person continues to consume alcohol, it may lead to a blackout (inability to remember events the next day) or loss of consciousness).
Over the long-term, alcohol use can take a serious toll on the body, resulting in elevated blood pressure, liver damage and brain damage that can sometimes be permanent. Alcohol may raise the risk of some types of cancer, as well as your risk for stroke and heart attack. Other consequences of long-term alcohol abuse might include personal and professional repercussions, such as job loss, loss of relationships and legal troubles.

Are You Addicted?

There are a number of signs you might be addicted to alcohol:

  • Inability to stop using alcohol even if you want to
  • Needing more alcohol to get the same effects (tolerance)
  • Continued drinking despite problems your alcohol use might be causing
  • Drinking more than you planned on a regular basis
  • Strong cravings or urges for alcohol
  • Withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop using alcohol