What is a standard drink?
A standard drink is a way to determine how much alcohol you are consuming. It is more accurate to count standrad drinks rather than glasses/bottles as varying drink sizes and alcohol types can contain different amounts of alcohol. One standrad drink refers to 10g of alcohol. So regardless of whether you are drinking beer, wine or spirits, the measure of 1 standard drink remains. The thing to look out for is serving sizes and percentage alcohol content.
In Australia, it is recommended that men and women drink no more than two standard drinks on any day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury. It is also recommened tha no more than four standard drinks be consumed on a single occasion to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.
As a quick guide, 1 standard drink is equal to:
285 mL of full strength beer (4.8% alc. vol)
375mL of mid strength beer (3.5% alc.vol)
425 mL of low strength beer (2.7% alc. vol)
100 mL of wine (red - 13% alc. vol, and white – 11.5% alc. vol)
100 mL of champagne (12% alc. vol) 3
30 mL of spirits (40% alc. vol)
275 mL bottle of ready-to-drink beverage (5% alcohol content)
Click here for more information and to see how many standards are in your favourite beverages.
1-2 standard drinks
Just minutes after taking your first sip, alcohol gets into your bloodstream via your stomach and goes to every part of your body – that includes your brain, liver, heart, nerves and muscles. Your reactions slow down and you might start to feel more relaxed, chatty and confident.
2-4 standard drinks
A few more drinks down and you’ll probably feel a bit tipsy as your brain and nervous system is affected. You’ll feel more reckless and uninhibited and your reaction time will be much slower too – this can be a dangerous combination.
After 6-8 standard drinks
By this stage your speech might be slurry, you may feel nauseous and your vision will be less focussed.
After 9-10 standard drinks
Your co-ordination by now will be majorly affected and your risk of injury will have rocketed. You’ll probably find your digestion is suffering and nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are all likely. A hangover is now also a sure thing as your liver will struggle to cope with this amount of alcohol.
11-12 standard drinks
If you’re still awake, you’ll no doubt be feeling pretty tired and lousy. You’re now at high risk of alcohol poisoning – especially if you’ve drunk over a short period of time without eating or drinking any soft drinks. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, clammy, pale or blueish skin, seizures and unconsciousness. In serious cases alcohol poisoning can lead to choking on vomit, coma and even death. If you suspect someone has alcohol poisoning call emergency services immediately and never leave them alone to ‘sleep it off’.
No-one wants to get to the point where they’re sick, falling over and embarrassing themselves. But often as you drink more, your willpower fails and one or two drinks can turn into five or six. Drinking plenty of water, eating before drinking alcohol and drinking slowly will help you to stay in control and reduce the damage to your health.
Written by Ruth Tongue