Keep Your Brain Healthy

Limit Alcohol for a Healthy Brain

Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.1 If you want to cut back on drinking or help your loved one, there are steps you can take and resources you can use. It’s never too late to take action and protect your brain.

You Can Take Action

Try these strategies and tips to make healthy choices about alcohol intake:

Understand the link between alcohol and Alzheimer’s.

Drinking too much can put you at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. How much is too much? Overall, the CDC recommends that on days when you drink, men should have no more than 2 drinks, and women should have no more than 1 drink.1 Research finds that, on average, more than 1-2 drinks per day is linked to higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.2

Learn how alcohol affects your brain over time.

Drinking too much alcohol damages the cells in your brain, called neurons. This makes it harder for your brain to send important messages to keep your mind and body working. In the short term, drinking too much can cause memory loss, mood swings, and unclear thinking. If you or a loved one drinks too much regularly for a over a long period of time, it can cause serious damage.

Make a plan to cut back.

There are steps you can take to reduce how much you drink or stop drinking altogether. Think about where, when, and why you drink. Then, come up with a plan to cut back. For example, you might find a different activity to help you relax, try a “mocktail” made without alcohol, or limit how much you drink at social events. You can also talk with your doctor to help make a plan to reduce drinking.

Get help for substance abuse.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, heavy drinking is having 3-4 drinks a day. Binge drinking is having 5 or more.3 If you or someone you know drinks heavily, there are resources to help start the conversation, find treatment, and stop drinking.

If you want to stop drinking, you can start by talking to a loved one, a friend, or a doctor. Or you can call a confidential hotline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration offers a free online treatment locator and a free, confidential treatment referral hotline (1-800-662-HELP (4357)).4

Understand the link between alcohol and Alzheimer’s.

Drinking too much can put you at a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. How much is too much? Overall, the CDC recommends that on days when you drink, men should have no more than 2 drinks, and women should have no more than 1 drink.1 Research finds that, on average, more than 1-2 drinks per day is linked to higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.2

Learn how alcohol affects your brain over time.

Drinking too much alcohol damages the cells in your brain, called neurons. This makes it harder for your brain to send important messages to keep your mind and body working. In the short term, drinking too much can cause memory loss, mood swings, and unclear thinking. If you or a loved one drinks too much regularly for a over a long period of time, it can cause serious damage.

Make a plan to cut back.

There are steps you can take to reduce how much you drink or stop drinking altogether. Think about where, when, and why you drink. Then, come up with a plan to cut back. For example, you might find a different activity to help you relax, try a “mocktail” made without alcohol, or limit how much you drink at social events. You can also talk with your doctor to help make a plan to reduce drinking.

Get help for substance abuse.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, heavy drinking is having 3-4 drinks a day. Binge drinking is having 5 or more.3 If you or someone you know drinks heavily, there are resources to help start the conversation, find treatment, and stop drinking.

If you want to stop drinking, you can start by talking to a loved one, a friend, or a doctor. Or you can call a confidential hotline. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration offers a free online treatment locator and a free, confidential treatment referral hotline (1-800-662-HELP (4357)).4