There is no safe level of alcohol consumption but there are some things you can know, do or avoid to engage in safer drinking practices.
What is a standard drink?
Is a stubby of beer the same as a glass of wine? It's easy to get confused when trying to keep track of how much you drink and recommended limits for safer drinking. In Australia, a standard drink is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol, regardless of container size or alcohol type (e.g. beer, wine, spirit). One standard drink is approximately:
- 285 mL of full strength beer (4.8%)
- 375mL of mid strength beer (3.5%)
- 425 mL of low strength beer (2.7%)
- 100 mL of wine (red - 13% and white – 11.5%)
- 100 mL of champagne (12% )
- 30 mL of spirits (40%)
- 275 mL bottle of ready-to-drink beverage (5%)
So a stubby of mid strength beer is around one standard drink, but full strength is about 1.3 standard drinks. You can read the label on a bottle or can to find how many standard drinks in your drink of choice, but what about when someone pours you a glass of wine or champagne? An average glass of wine at the pub is between 1.5 to 1.8 standard drinks.
How long does alcohol stay in your blood?
On average, it takes about one hour for your body to break down one standard drink of alcohol.
Binge drinking is not a safe drinking practice, as you can lose control of your thoughts and actions. It usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk.
Consuming more than six standard drinks of alcohol in a single session for men and women is considered binge drinking.
Six standard drinks is equivalent to drinking between:
- 2 and 3 glasses (175ml each) of wine
- 4 and 5 bottles (375ml each) of full-strength beer
Sensible drinking is the best way to avoid a hangover. There are no cures for a hangover, but there are things you can do to avoid one and, if you do have one, ease any discomfort:
- Don't drink more than you know your body can cope with. If you're not sure how much that is, be careful
- Don't drink on an empty stomach. Before you go out, have a meal that includes carbohydrates (such as pasta or rice) or fats. The food will help slow down the body's absorption of alcohol
- Don't drink dark-coloured drinks if you've found you're sensitive to them. They contain natural chemicals called congeners, which irritate blood vessels and tissue in the brain and can make a hangover worse
- Drink water or non-fizzy soft drinks in between each alcoholic drink. Carbonated (fizzy) drinks speed up the absorption of alcohol into your system
- Drink a pint (600ml) or so of water before you go to sleep. Keep a glass of water by the bed to sip if you wake up during the night
Dealing with a hangover involves rehydrating the body to help it deal with the painful symptoms. The best time to rehydrate is before going to sleep after a drinking session. You can replace lost fluids by drinking bland liquids that are easy on the digestive system, such as water, soda water and isotonic drinks.
Where can I get more information and help?
USC Student Wellbeing offers counselling services. Contact Student Wellbeing for more information or to make an appointment.