By Clare Jones

People give a lot of lip service to “drinking responsibly.” This Super Bowl Sunday, we’ll see commercials and hear messages like “responsibility matters” or “please drink responsibly.”

But, what do they really mean?

It’s not just about using a designated driver, it’s about thinking about how much and how often you are drinking.

For most people, following low risk guidelines, like the 0-1-2 approach, can keep you out of trouble and minimize the consequences related to high risk drinking and overconsumption.


The 0-1-2 guideline is simple to remember.

Zero means zero drinks for anyone under 21, or anyone who is pregnant, planning to operate a motor vehicle, has certain medical conditions, or for someone who is a recovering alcoholic.

One is one drink per occasion for women.

Two is two drinks or less for men per occasion.

Why is the number less for women? Women tend to weigh less than men, and pound for pound women have less water in their bodies.  So, if men and women drink the same amounts, a woman’s blood alcohol content will be higher, putting her at greater risk.

For most people following the 0-1-2 low risk guidelines will help them avoid health and other problems, such as:

    • Injuries
    • Birth defects
    • STDs
    • Unintended pregnancies
    • Risk of sexual assault

I’m not saying no one should ever drink alcohol. We know that some research shows that occasional, light drinking may even be good for your heart. What I am saying is this: Thinking about how much and how often you drink and following these low risk guidelines will reduce the risk of unintended consequences for most people.

Pay attention to your drinking. It matters. Count the number of drinks that you have per occasion or per week. It’s for your own health. It’s drinking responsibly.


Rethinking Drinking is another resource you can use to look at your drinking habits and how it affects your health. 

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