Alcohol consumption is part of many people’s lifestyles. It is normal to enjoy a drink every now and then. However, it is important to know your limit. And to know your limit is to know how much alcohol is in your drink.
So do know how much alcohol is in your drink? It might be easy to know this by reading the labels of beer cans and wine bottles. After all, alcoholic drink manufacturers are required to give full disclosure of the alcohol content in their products.
What you should be more careful about are the mixed drinks and cocktails you order at the bar.
People would say “I had a one drink!” But how do you define “a drink?” How much alcohol are you really consuming?
According to HHS Healthbeat, a public service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “… most people don’t know what a drink is. A drink is the amount of alcohol in 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or a one half ounce shots of 80 proof spirits like vodka.”
A regular can of beer (12 fl oz) contains about 5% alcohol, a malt liquor (8-9 fl oz) 7%, a glass of wine (5 fl oz) about 12% and a shot of hard liquor (1.5 fl oz) 40%. Mix them in your cocktail and you don’t know how much alcohol you are actually getting. For example, mixed drinks like Long Island iced tea, despite its seemingly innocuous name, could contain several times the alcohol in a standard drink.
The HHS has come up with a tool to calculate the amount of alcohol in your cocktail. By providing information about your cocktail’s ingredients (alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic), the alcohol calculator gives you an idea what you are up against in terms of % alcohol per volume of drink.
Knowing more about what you are drinking is important to avoid high risk drinking behavior.
Here is the drinking pattern in the US based on a survey of 43,000 by the National Institutes of Health:
- 7 in 10 adults always drink at low-risk levels or do not drink at all
- 35% don’t drink at all
- 37% always drink at low-risk levels
- 28% drink at heavy or at-risk levels
- 3 in 10 adults drink at levels that put them at risk for alcoholism, liver disease, and other problem.
So how do you find out at what risk level are in terms of alcohol consumption? The HHS is offering a free resource booklet called Rethinking Drinking: Alcohol and your health, which gives information on:
- What counts as a drink?
- How much alcohol do common drink containers contain?
- What is your drinking pattern?
Remember, alcohol can affect your brain so it is better to think first before you drink.