Summer 2009 • Issue 18

Rethinking Drinking Offers Tools to Assess and Change Risky Drinking Habits

In March, NIAAA launched the fully interactive Web site and supporting booklet, Rethinking Drinking, to help people recognize and reduce their risk for alcohol problems. These new NIAAA resources offer evidence-based information about risky drinking patterns, the signs of an alcohol problem, and strategies for cutting down or quitting drinking. The Web site ( also provides tools, such as calculators that can be personalized by the user, to estimate the alcohol content in common cocktails and beverage containers.

According to an NIAAA survey of 43,000 U.S. adults, about 3 in 10 people drink at levels that increase their risk for alcoholism; liver disease; and many other physical, mental health, and social problems. Some of these people already have alcohol-related problems, and it’s safest for them to quit. But most of these “at-risk” drinkers can reduce their chances of harm by cutting their drinking to within the low-risk drinking limits presented in Rethinking Drinking. For men, these limits are no more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week; for women, the limits are no more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week.

“People can still have trouble even if they drink within these limits, particularly if they drink too quickly, have certain medical conditions, or are older,” says NIAAA Acting Director Dr. Kenneth Warren. Among people who exceed the low-risk limits, about 1 in 4 already has an alcohol use disorder—alcoholism or alcohol abuse—and the rest are at increased risk for these and other problems.

Image of Rethinking Drinking web site

“We know that many heavy drinkers are able to change on their own,” says Dr. Mark Willenbring, Director of NIAAA’s Division of Treatment and Recovery Research. Rethinking Drinking is a convenient way to provide information and tools, especially for those who want to make a change before they develop symptoms.”

The Rethinking Drinking booklet may be ordered online, downloaded from the Web site, or ordered by telephone at (301) 443–3860.





< Previous Story

Next Story >