At Risk Drinking – How Much is Too Much?

At Risk Drinking – How Much is Too Much?

How much alcohol is too much? It could mean drinking too much at one time, drinking too often, or both. It’s important to be aware of how much you are drinking, whether your drinking pattern is risky, the harm that some drinking patterns can cause, and ways to reduce your risks.

Many people are surprised to learn what counts as a drink. In the United States, a “standard” drink is any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of “pure” alcohol. 

What is “Low Risk” Drinking?
“Low risk” is not “no risk.” Even within these limits, alcohol can cause problems if people drink too quickly, have health problems, or are older (both men and women over 65 are generally advised to have no more than 3 drinks on any day and 7 per week). Based on your health and how alcohol affects you, you may need to drink less or not at all.

What is “at risk” or “heavy drinking”?
For healthy adults in general, drinking more than these below single-day or weekly limits is considered “at-risk” or “heavy” drinking: Remember Too Much + Too Often = Too Risky. 

• Men:         More than 4 drinks on any day or 14 per week
• Women:    More than 3 drinks on any day or 7 per week*

Remember, as safety sensitive professionals, Flight Attendants must also comply with Federal FAA regulations that require no alcohol use 8 hours before duty and no BAC above a .02%.  Flight Attendants may also need to comply with a more stringent pre-duty company policy that may, for example, expand the 8 hour rule to 10 hrs or 12 hrs.  Finally, International Flight Attendants must also comply with the myriad of laws dictated by other countries.  Any use of alcohol within these restricted parameters should be considered “Too Risky” for your personal wellness, flight safety and career retention.  If you are questioning your drinking and have concerns, please contact your AFA EAP thru the confidential helpline at 800-424-2406 or the Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program at 855-333-2327.  Help is available 24/7.

*Alcohol use impacts women differently than men due to physiological differences such as lower body weight and having lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes in the stomach that help eliminate alcohol. Consuming more than one drink per day places women at risk for health concerns such as heart disease, breast cancer, and, for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. For some women, no alcohol use is recommended.