It’s become more common for people to kick off the new year with Dry January — that’s when you don’t drink alcohol for the whole month. Taking a break from alcohol is good for your body and mind. But whether you participate in Dry January or not, it’s important to be mindful of your drinking habits all year long.

How much alcohol is safe?

Alcohol affects people differently depending on their gender and age. Women should have no more than one drink a day or 7 drinks a week, and men should have no more than 2 drinks a day or 14 drinks a week, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends people 65 and older limit themselves to no more than 7 drinks a week.

The definition of “one drink” depends on the type of alcohol. Beverages with a higher percentage of alcohol have a stronger impact. A standard drink of 14 grams is equal to:

  • Hard liquor (40% alcohol) — 1.5 oz
  • Wine (12% alcohol) — 5 oz
  • Beer (5% alcohol) — 12 oz, which is usually the amount in a can or bottle of beer

Overindulging doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem. But if you’ve found yourself drinking more or have been thinking about cutting back, it may be a good time to look at your relationship with alcohol. Drinking too much can put you at risk for several health problems. A recent study found that 5 or more days of heavy drinking over a 3-month period can increase the chance of developing a severe alcohol use disorder.