How Much Alcohol is too Much?


Surveys of Canadians show that about 80% of adults have consumed alcohol in the past year. About 70% of them are light drinkers and consume less than five drinks per occasion. According to the low-risk guidelines developed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, you can reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

–  10 drinks a week for women, with no more than two drinks per day most days

–  15 drinks a week for men, with no more than three drinks per day most days Non-drinking days every week to avoid developing a habit

Keep in mind that the low-risk guidelines are primarily about health risks such as heart disease, cancer, and accidents. A diagnosis of alcohol use disorder does not depend on how much you drink, but on whether alcohol is causing problems in your life. Of course, drinking more generally leads to an increased risk of developing problems.

When do I need to get help?

It’s an incorrect, antiquated idea that you need to “hit rock bottom” before getting help. If you’re worried about your drinking, or if your loved ones are concerned that you drink too much, ask yourself some honest questions:

  • Is it difficult to stop drinking once I have started?
  • Do I use alcohol to manage difficult emotions (e.g., sadness, stress, loneliness, anxiety)?
  • Does alcohol cause problems in my life?
  • Have I tried to cut down on my own unsuccessfully?

For one Alavida client (we keep names confidential), seeing her recycle bin stuffed with wine bottles week after week caused her to realize just how much she was drinking. “It became an image thing for me,” she told us. Fear of what the neighbours might think led her to research ways to reduce her alcohol consumption, which led her to Alavida.  

“I was interested in reducing the amount I was drinking. Alavida appealed to me because it involved a medical component, which gave me comfort that I would not be harming myself,” she said. She also found great value in the program’s counselling component because it helped her gain insight into why she was drinking (anxiety) and to identify triggers as well as healthy coping strategies.  “Now I look at the recycle bin with great satisfaction, as there is one bottle or none,” she said.

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, it may be time to seek help. Contact our care team for more information about our leading online healthcare solution for problem drinking.  

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.

Dr. Terri-Lynn MacKay is a licensed Clinical Psychologist who has specialized in the treatment and research of mental health and addictive disorders since 2003. She leads a team of licensed professionals who practice client-centered, compassionate, evidence-based care. She is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia and the University of Manitoba. She is an active contributor to her community through volunteer activities such as Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.