If you’ve come here after searching on this issue, it’s likely that you’re wondering about your drinking
and whether or not you should cut back to reduce alcohol-related problems or risks for problems. If you’ve not read the previous post I recommend doing so as they build on each other.
The first post covered definitions of moderate drinking based on solid empirical research over the years. It also addressed instances where moderate drinking or a goal of pursuing moderate drinking could be hazardous to your health and well-being. If you haven’t yet read it, we recommend that you do so first.
This second post focused on what’s really the first step or question to answer about your drinking? Would it be a good thing for me to change it?
This third post (below) gives you a way to compare different kinds of alcohol and encourages you to use a standard drink (Standard Ethanol Content or SEC to use research terms) and gives you a calculator for it.
The fourth post addresses your chances of success in cutting back.
The fifth post cover concrete steps to take in cutting back on your drinking.
The sixth post discusses how to deal when your efforts to moderate your drinking aren’t working.
What is a Standard Drink?
A “standard drink” is a term used to describe the approximate amount of pure alcohol in different alcoholic beverages. It offers a way to compare alcohol content across diverse drink types and sizes. The actual volume of a standard drink can vary based on the country. The table below provides info on how much of a beverage or substance translates into 1 or 2 standard drinks:
|Drink/Brand||Volume for 1 Standard Drink (ml/oz/cups)||Volume for 2 Standard Drinks (ml/oz/cups)|
|Vodka (40% ABV)||35 ml / 1.18 oz / 0.15 cups||70 ml / 2.37 oz / 0.30 cups|
|Beer (5% ABV)||280 ml / 9.46 oz / 1.18 cups||560 ml / 18.93 oz / 2.37 cups|
|Champagne (13.5% ABV)||104 ml / 3.52 oz / 0.44 cups||208 ml / 7.04 oz / 0.88 cups|
|Wine (13% ABV)||108 ml / 3.65 oz / 0.46 cups||216 ml / 7.30 oz / 0.91 cups|
|Tequila (40% ABV)||35 ml / 1.18 oz / 0.15 cups||70 ml / 2.37 oz / 0.30 cups|
|Sake (15% ABV)||93 ml / 3.14 oz / 0.39 cups||186 ml / 6.28 oz / 0.79 cups|
|Absinthe (68% ABV)||21 ml / 0.71 oz / 0.09 cups||41 ml / 1.39 oz / 0.17 cups|
|Amaretto (28% ABV)||50 ml / 1.69 oz / 0.21 cups||100 ml / 3.38 oz / 0.42 cups|
|Fernet (40% ABV)||35 ml / 1.18 oz / 0.15 cups||70 ml / 2.37 oz / 0.30 cups|
|Aperol (11% ABV)||127 ml / 4.30 oz / 0.54 cups||254 ml / 8.60 oz / 1.07 cups|
|Cachaça (38% ABV)||37 ml / 1.25 oz / 0.16 cups||73 ml / 2.47 oz / 0.31 cups|
|Bourbon (45% ABV)||31 ml / 1.05 oz / 0.13 cups||62 ml / 2.09 oz / 0.26 cups|
|Nyquil (10% ABV)||140 ml / 4.73 oz / 0.59 cups||280 ml / 9.46 oz / 1.18 cups|
|Cheracol Plus (12% ABV)||117 ml / 3.96 oz / 0.49 cups||234 ml / 7.91 oz / 0.99 cups|
|Dimetane (1.4% ABV)||1000 ml / 33.81 oz / 4.23 cups||2000 ml / 67.63 oz / 8.45 cups|
|Donnatal (13.3% ABV)||105 ml / 3.55 oz / 0.44 cups||210 ml / 7.10 oz / 0.89 cups|
|Geritol (12% ABV)||117 ml / 3.96 oz / 0.49 cups||234 ml / 7.91 oz / 0.99 cups|
|Novahistine (5% ABV)||280 ml / 9.46 oz / 1.18 cups||560 ml / 18.93 oz / 2.37 cups|
|Robitussin (3.5% ABV)||400 ml / 13.53 oz / 1.69 cups||800 ml / 27.05 oz / 3.38 cups|
|Triaminic (5.5% ABV)||255 ml / 8.62 oz / 1.08 cups||510 ml / 17.24 oz / 2.16 cups|
How Much is in that Drink?
A standard drink is…
5 oz (125 ml) of 12% wine
12 oz (355 ml.) of 5% beer
1.5 oz (45ml) of 40% (80 proof) spirits
Next, it’s essential to figure out how many “standard drinks” are actually in your favorite drink.
If you usually drink a glass with 3 oz. of vodka every night, or a pint of beer which is equal to 16 oz., the number of standard drinks will change depending on the % of alcohol and quantity.
To determine the % of alcohol, look at the bottle to find the alcohol % noted. How big is the bottle? Consider the size. Beer bottles, for example, come in a variety of sizes ranging from 8 to 40 oz. If the alcohol content is unclear click here for the full list of beers, wines, wine coolers, liquors and liqueurs. Scroll down the page until you locate your favorite drink. The alcohol content will be listed in the column to the right. Note that .05 = 5%, and .40 = 40%. If you drink outside the home, and you’re unclear exactly how much alcohol the bartender pours in your favorite drink, the only way to find out is to ask.
Once you’ve determined the size (oz., mls.) and alcohol %, enter the information below to figure out just how many standard drinks are in your favorite drink.
Here’s the number of standard drinks in that drink:
How Being Aware of Standard Drinks Can Help You Cut Back
- Setting Limits: By understanding what constitutes a standard drink, you can set a daily or weekly limit for yourself. This gives you a tangible goal to strive for, making it easier to monitor and control your intake.
- Accountability: Keeping track of the number of standard drinks you consume can serve as a reality check. You might think you’ve only had two glasses of wine, but if each glass was larger than the standard size, you might have consumed three or more standard drinks.
- Enhanced Decision Making: Being cognizant of your alcohol consumption aids in making informed decisions, like whether it’s safe to drive or if you should have another drink.
- Health Insights: Monitoring your intake can provide insights into how alcohol affects your body, mood, and sleep patterns. Over time, this information can motivate you to cut back if you notice any negative impacts.
Some Limitations of Using Standard Drinks
- Not One-size-fits-all: Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently based on factors like weight, age, sex, and tolerance. What might be moderate for one person can be excessive for another, even if they’re consuming the same number of standard drinks.
- Variation in Alcohol Content: Not all drinks fit neatly into the “standard drink” definition. Craft beers, cocktails with multiple alcohols, or wines with high alcohol content can contain more alcohol than one might assume.
- False Sense of Security: Just because someone sticks to a specific number of standard drinks doesn’t mean they’re safe to drive or won’t experience negative health effects. It’s crucial to listen to one’s body and understand its limits.
- Focus on Quantity Over Quality: Standard drinks emphasize the quantity of alcohol, but not necessarily the quality of the experience. Cutting back on alcohol isn’t just about drinking less; it’s also about enjoying what you drink and recognizing how it makes you feel.
What is Moderate Drinking?
Moderate drinking is defined as no more than 3-4 standard drinks per drinking episode, and no more than 7 drinks per week for women and 12 for men. If your objective is to moderate or cut back on your drinking, consider the following: 1) If you find that you’re drinking more than the moderate drinking guidelines by cutting back on alcohol you’ll reduce your risk for problems; and 2) Even moderate drinking may put you at risk for alcohol-related problems if you’re currently not drinking; or if you’ve had significant alcohol related problems in the past.
Lastly, If the answer above leaves you wondering or concerned about your drinking, click on the Screener button at the top of the page and get some objective feedback. It’s confidential and anonymous.