Australian alcohol guidelines

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Do you know the max number of standard drinks recommended in a day? What about in a week? Take the guesswork out of drinking and check out the new alcohol guidelines.

Based on the latest scientific evidence, these guidelines were released in 2020 to help reduce the risk of alcohol-related harm and improve the health of Australians.

The new guidelines

While there is no safe level of drinking, the guidelines provide a framework for how to stay healthy and protect you and your family from alcohol-related harms.

The guidelines recommend that:

  • To reduce your risk of cancer including breast, stomach and bowel, keep it to 10 or less standard drinks a week. Have no more than 4 standard drinks in one day to reduce your risk of injury and accidents.
  • Anyone under 18 should not drink alcohol to help prevent negative impacts on the developing brain and riskier levels of drinking when they are older.
  • Those who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should not drink alcohol to reduce harm to their unborn child.
  • Women who are breastfeeding should avoid drinking alcohol as it is safest for the health and development of their baby.

For a more in-depth look into the guidelines, read our Insight article.

NHMRC guidelines graphic

How were the guidelines developed?

The guidelines were developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the leading expert body in health and medical research in Australia.

The NHMRC uses a rigorous process to develop and review guidelines, which includes an independent expert review and a period of public consultation for stakeholders.

What’s a standard drink?

It can be difficult to keep track of how much alcohol you are consuming because different types of drinks contain different amounts of alcohol and come in different sizes.

A standard drink might be less than you think. For example, a bottle of beer or a glass of wine is often more than a 'standard drink'.

An Australian standard drink contains 10g of alcohol (12.5ml of pure alcohol). One standard drink is 285ml of full-strength beer, a 100ml glass of wine, or 30ml of spirits.

Tracking how many standard drinks you’re consuming can help you follow the guidelines so you can stay as healthy as possible.

  • Spirits 40% alcohol, 30ml nip (shot glass)
  • Wine 13% alcohol, 100ml average serving
  • Cider 4.9% alcohol, 285ml glass
  • Pot/middy 4.9% alcohol, 285ml glass (full strength)
  • Pint 2.7% alcohol, 425ml glass (light beer)
  • Sparkling wine 13% alcohol, 100ml

Check out the Drinking Calculator to find out how your drinking measures up.

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The ADF received funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.