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Low risk drinking

Using alcohol without harm

In stage 3 a person uses alcohol in a harm-free way. If a person chooses to drink alcohol, it makes sense that they would aspire to remain at stage 3 throughout their life. On the map, this is shown as another road going off the side of the page.

This stage may be known as “moderate” drinking or “social” drinking, but the defining characteristic of this stage is that the drinking causes no problems, no harm – neither to the drinker nor to others.

Some societies have widely accepted “norms” or customs for what is acceptable and what is wise in terms of alcohol consumption. However, these traditions may break down in times of plenty (like the Celtic Tiger days) and at any rate, each individual has to work out for themselves what level of consumption is safe. See our How much am I drinking? section for some more information on drinking levels.

In stage 3 (or perhaps stage 2) there can be a “honeymoon period” when drinking alcohol seems very attractive and seems to cause no harm. This can be deceptive because there can be a time-delay on the emergence of harm. If harm does begin to occur, it is important to face this fact and to reduce the drinking. The sooner this is done, the easier it will be.

Recommended weekly guidelines

Low risk weekly guidelines for adults are:

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