How Much Alcohol Consumption Is Too Much?

Types of alcohol

According to the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025,” from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, when alcohol is consumed. If you have a health problem or are taking certain medicines, you may need to drink less, or not at all. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.

Alcohol consumption as you age

As you get older, you may feel the effects of alcohol differently and be unable to drink as much. Alcohol is processed by the body more slowly in older adults, so blood alcohol levels are higher for a longer amount of time after drinking. This can lead to an increased danger of accidents, falls, and injuries, hours after drinking alcohol.

One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

When is your alcohol consumption a problem?

Consider getting help if you or a loved one:

  • Hides or lies about drinking
  • Consumes more than seven drinks a week or more than three drinks in one day
  • Gets hurt or harms others when drinking


For older adults, too much alcohol comes with consequences…

Drinking too much alcohol over a long time can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as:

  • Some types of cancer, such as mouth and throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast
  • Liver damage
  • Immune system disorders
  • Brain damage

The list goes on. Excessive alcohol consumption can also worsen health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and ulcers. Alcohol abuse can make some medical problems hard for doctors to find and treat. For example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack.

How to drink responsibly

Be aware of how your body changes as you age. Be alert to these changes and adjust how much alcohol you can safely drink. There are many ways to increase your awareness of alcohol, cut back, or stop drinking:

  • Keep track of the number of drinks you have each day.
  • Decide how many days a week you want to drink. Plan some days that are free of alcohol.
  • Count how many ounces of alcohol you are consuming in each drink.
  • Pace yourself; don’t have more than one alcoholic drink in an hour.
  • Make sure to eat and drink water when drinking alcohol.
  • If you want to quit drinking, ask for support from your family and advice from your health care provider.

Alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation. Your Care Management team is available to help — at no cost to you as a Tufts Health Plan member. If you have concerns about alcohol consumption, you can work with the team to navigate your options.


Resources & Tools

Drug Search

Use the drug search tools to find out if your drugs are covered and which tier they fall under on your plan type.

Find a Doctor

Find a doctor within your Tufts Health Plan Medicare Preferred HMO network or your Tufts Health Plan Senior Care Options network.

Health Library A-Z

Tufts Health Plan has partnered with Healthwise to provide members with access to a library of high-quality content on conditions, treatments and more.