Speak Volumes

What's a Standard Drink Size?

The simple answer: .6 fluid ounces of pure alcohol.

The not so simple answer: You can’t drink pure alcohol. It’s flammable. And it tastes awful. Even vodka, which at 100 proof is often called hard liquor, is only 50% alcohol. Then you have to factor in the size of the pour or, in the case of beer, the size of the glass.

The point is, counting drinks isn’t a good way to keep tabs on how much you’re drinking. Volume is. But, with so many variables, that takes some math.

You could ask the bartender. He or she should know the strength of the drinks they serve. You could also do a little research. Find out how much alcohol goes into your favorite drinks.

But, no matter what you do, please know that one drink isn’t necessarily just one drink.

What's Binge Drinking?

Here’s how the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines it: Drinking that brings blood alcohol levels to .08 g/dl. That typically occurs after four drinks in two hours for women and five in two hours for men.

The caveat, of course, is that not all drinks are created equal. Some can be the equivalent of three and even four drinks. Which is why we say speak in volumes, and you’ll speak volumes about how much you’re drinking.

The Consequences of Binge Drinking

Heavy drinking can lead to some heavy stuff – like relationship problems, losing your license, or even injury and death.

  • Never drink and drive: It’s against the law, but that’s not the only reason to avoid drinking and driving. Almost half of all fatal crashes in North Dakota are alcohol related.
  • Don’t drink if you’re pregnant or may become pregnant: The truth is we don’t know yet whether any amount of alcohol is safe for a developing baby. We do know, however, that drinking during pregnancy can cause brain damage or other serious problems.
  • Consider the health risks: Three of the five leading causes of death are linked to alcohol use. And heavy drinkers are at greater risk of health issue ranging from liver disease to sleep disorders to sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, alcohol use disorders, generally called alcoholism and alcohol abuse, effect about 18 million people in the U.S.

Find more substance abuse prevention resources on the North Dakota Prevention Resource Media Center site.