Under 40? New Data Suggests You Go Alcohol-free

Have you ever read a headline or two about how a glass of wine a day can have health benefits only to see another headline weeks later about the harmful consequences of moderate drinking? It seems like the recommendation is constantly swinging back and forth, which can be very confusing. But don’t worry, a recently published Global Burden Disease study has entered the conversation and boldly proclaimed that alcohol can actually be BOTH harmful and helpful. That is… depending on your age!

A Sobering Study

Sorry to all those Millenials and Gen Zers who enjoy responsibly drinking alcohol—this new study proclaims that are no benefits of drinking for you, only risks. This global study found that drinking has significant risks for those under 40 years old but some potential health benefits to consuming a small amount of alcohol for people over the age of 40. Some of the findings in the study using data from 204 countries and territories included:

  • 1.34 billion people consumed harmful amounts of alcohol in 2020.
  • 6 out of 10 people who consumed unsafe amounts of alcohol in 2020 were aged 15-39. Almost 77% of those people were male.
  • Alcohol use (more than 1/4 of a standard drink per day for women and 1/10 of a drink for men) between the ages of 15 and 39 poses serious health risks and has no health benefits.
  • For people age 40 and older, consuming small amounts of alcohol may provide some health benefits (reducing the risk of stroke, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease).

Summed up, the researchers concluded that “young people should not drink, but older people may benefit from drinking small amounts”. Furthermore, the study provided updated recommendations on how much alcohol is considered “safe” to drink.

How Much Alcohol is “Safe”?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the current recommended safe amount of alcohol to consume is 1 drink or less per day for women and 2 drinks or less per day for men. In contrast, this new study’s finding suggests that the safe amount of alcohol to consume is much less than that, and that it also depends on age. According to the study:

  • Women under 40 should only consume 2 tablespoons of wine or 3.3 ounces of beer a day.
  • Men under 40 should only consume 2.6 tablespoons of beer or 2 teaspoons of wine (yes teaspoons!)
  • Adults over the age of 40 can drink 1-2 glasses (3.4oz) of wine.

Yeah, that’s right, this recently published study (which has been ongoing since 1990) recommends mere tablespoons if you’re under the age of 40 and want to drink safely. However, the researchers do acknowledge that it “may not be realistic to think young adults will abstain from drinking” but that they do “think it’s important to communicate the latest evidence so that everyone can make informed decisions about their health.” It raises the question, what are the alcohol risks for younger people.

It’s also important to note that, for those who struggle with alcohol misuse or alcohol addiction, no amount of alcohol may be “safe.”

Alcohol Risks for Young Adults

Although young adults typically drink less often than adults, they tend to consume larger quantities of alcohol when they do drink. More than 90% of all alcohol consumed by young people is done so in a binge drinking pattern.

Binge drinking refers to the consumption of 5 or more drinks on one occasion for a man or 4 or more drinks on one occasion for a woman. Binge drinking is considered a dangerous behavior and can result in negative consequences including alcohol poisoning, accidents, and increased risk of certain disease (including some types of cancer).

The Global Burden Disease study found that young adults consuming more than a very small amount of alcohol were at risk for health risks including but not limited to:

  • Unintentional injuries.
  • Self-harm.
  • Interpersonal violence.
  • Transport injuries.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Hypertensive heart disease.

Excessive alcohol use can also potentially lead to alcohol addiction and an alcohol use disorder. Fortunately, there are resources to help.

Orange County Rehab for Alcohol & Drug Addiction

Laguna Treatment Center located in Orange County, CA offers hospital based medical detox and inpatient drug and alcohol rehab and for alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorders. Patients participate in group therapy sessions and individual counseling led by our licensed practitioners. Evidence-based addiction therapies offered include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).
  • Motivational Interviewing.

Laguna Treatment Center offers medications for alcohol addiction in addition to behavioral therapy to help patients manage their recovery long-term. The residential inpatient programs also host regular Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings to further support patients in recovery and help patients develop a sober, supportive network of likeminded peers.

For more questions about the admissions process or programs offered, speak to one of our admissions navigators available 24/7 at .

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We are here to help you get sober and learn how to stay that way. Laguna Treatment Center is located in Orange County within easy reach of the entire Los Angeles metro. We are the premier chemical dependency recovery hospital in the OC. We offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.