​Who should abstain from alcohol?

Alcohol is a drink produced through the process of fermentation, using ingredients such as fruit, barley, corn and grains.​ Despite these seemingly harmless ingredients, alcohol consumption can cause adverse effects on some groups of people. 

Drinking alcohol in moderation and with responsibility, can be fun and enjoyable. However, some people should not drink at all.
These groups include children, adolescents, recovering alcoholics, pregnant women, and those under medication, or those who have certain medical conditions such as alcohol allergy, liver problems, uncontrolled high blood pressure and asthma.

Safety first

Alcohol depresses the function of one's central nervous system and alters his or her perceptions, emotions, movements, vision and hearing.
Therefore, individuals who plan to engage in activities that require attention, skill and coordination, such as driving or operating machinery, should not drink before embarking on these activities [4].
Most people retain some alcohol in their blood for up to two to three hours after just a single drink.

Children and adolescents

Children and adolescents should avoid drinking altogether. Studies have shown that for each additional year earlier than 21 that an individual began to drink, the greater the odds that he or she would develop alcohol dependence at some point in life [1].

Persons who started drinking from a young age may experience long-term adverse effects on their memory, concentration, visuospatial skills, reasoning, planning and goal-directed behaviours.
Alcohol consumption during adolescence may also affect brain development, leading to abnormalities [2].

Alcohol puts babies at risk too

Pregnant women or women who plan to conceive should not drink. Alcohol consumption by pregnant women can result in their babies having major and permanent birth defects such as fetal alcohol syndrome [3].

Individuals who are under medication

Alcohol can interact with many medication, which may lead to increased toxicity, illness or even death.
If one drinks when he or she is on medication, the alcohol may affect the intended reaction of the drug in the body. It can cause the drug to either have a diminished effect, or be transformed into a toxic chemical(s) that can harm the body.
If you are taking medication, check with your health care provider before you decide to consume alcohol [4].

Those with existing medical conditions

Those with medical conditions such as alcohol allergy, liver disease and asthma may experience adverse reactions to alcohol consumption. Chronic health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure may also be exacerbated with drinking.
Therefore, if you are suffering from a medical condition, seek the advice of your health care provider before you consume any alcohol [4].

Don't drink at all if you cannot restrict yourself​

A person who is not alcohol dependent may still be able to limit the amount he or she drinks. But if a person is diagnosed as an alcoholic, it is best that he or she seeks advice from a counsellor or healthcare provider [4].

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  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, "Early Drinking Linked to Higher Lifetime Alcoholism", 2006. Accessed from: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/early-drinking-linked-higher-lifetime-alcoholism-risk on 1 Feb 2022.
  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2006, "Underage Drinking", Accessed from: https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm on 1 Feb 2022.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, "Alcohol Use During Pregnancy" https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, "Alcohol Use and Your Health" https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.