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What is ‘moderate drinking’?

The Addiction Action Campaign congratulates SAB Miller for providing this information to South Africans. “However, this information should be household knowledge. What we’d like to see is their adverts showing responsible use that doesn’t encourage people to have one more”, said Warren Whitfield AAC founder and C.E.O.

SAB Miller have shown a commitment to reducing the harm that alcohol causes to South Africans and are currently considering making funding available for addiction treatment. “This will be a first for South Africa if they do decide to fund treatment and we hope that this will encourage other companies in similar industries to do the same”, he said.

There is no single definition of ‘moderate drinking’. Some say it’s drinking that doesn’t cause problems for the drinker or for society. Others suggest it’s about drinking within the range that maximises the known benefits of alcohol consumption without substantially increasing the risks.

One way of thinking about it is to look at some of the general guidelines available and consider how they fit your circumstances.

That’s because people don’t react to alcohol in the same way. How we define ‘one drink’ can differ too. And, finally, customs and cultures are different – what’s considered moderate drinking in one country might not be in another.

Many governments produce official drinking guidelines, but these guidelines often vary between countries. Here’s how some governments define moderate alcohol consumption:

  • US: Two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women – the guidelines state that drinking at these levels may even provide some protection against heart disease. Twelve fluid ounces of beer counts as one drink
  • South Africa: No more than one drink (12 grams of alcohol) per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men
  • UK: An upper limit of 32 grams of alcohol per day for men and 24 grams of alcohol per day for women
  • Australia: No more than two standard drinks (10 grams of alcohol per standard drink) per day for both men and women.

“If you exceed the RDA of alcohol consumption, you’re misusing alcohol”, said Whitfield who believe that the majority of the income generated by alcohol companies comes from misuse. “The reality is that once you’ve had more than one drink, you’re brain chemistry is altered to such a degree that you are more likely to ignore the RDA and misuse alcohol”, he said.