Over summer, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate: birthdays, parties, weddings and even just catching up at a barbecue with friends. Socializing is an important part of maintaining our mental health, helping us stay connected to family, friends and loved ones, but celebration can often come with the “social lubricant” alcohol, which is America’s most widely used social drug. With the occasional celebratory drink, there is always the risk of overindulgence and the health risks this can bring.
You are not alone if you have ever thought to yourself: How much is too much? What is the magic number of drinks that will avoid a hangover? Is there a healthier way to enjoy an occasional drink?
Drinking more alcohol increases such dangers as alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide, and accidents. So this summer, why don’t you make a commitment to reduce how much alcohol you drink? Your body will thank you.
There are four guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol relevant to adults, which are:
- For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.
- For healthy men and women, drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from that occasion.
- For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.
- For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.
That is why it is important to know how much alcohol your drink contains. Unfortunately, this is not as simple as saying one glass of wine or one can of beer. In the United States, one “standard” drink or one alcoholic drink equivalent contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:
- 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
- 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
- 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol
How do you know how much alcohol is in your drink? The following table shows the number of standard drinks in popular types of alcohol:
- Can low-strength beer – 0.8 standard drink
- Can mid-strength beer – 1 standard drink
- Can full-strength beer – 1.4 standard drinks
- 100ml wine (13.5% alcohol) – 1 standard drink
- 30ml nip spirits – 1 standard drink
- Can spirits (approx. 5% alcohol) – 1.2 to 1.7 standard drinks
- Can spirits (approx. 7% alcohol) – 1.6 to 2.4 standard drinks
Dry mouth, splitting headache, light sensitivity, and nausea are signs of a hangover. The main cause of a hangover is ethanol, the alcohol in your drinks. However, depending on the amount and type of alcohol consumed the effects can vary.
A hangover is your body’s way of telling you that you have gone too far. Let us not mince words here, if you are experiencing a hangover, you have drunk too much. Even one drink can be enough for some people to experience a hangover.