“Get on the beers” – you’re gonna hear it more and more as lockdown comes to an end and the festive season approaches. So now’s probably a good time to remind ourselves to take it easy after months cooped up inside.
First off, we should probably talk about what a standard drink is. I tend to think one standard drink is a glass of whatever I’m drinking which is – and let me emphasise this – extremely wrong. So it’s good to brush up on this every now and then.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), one standard drink is 285ml of full-strength beer, a 100ml glass of wine, or 30ml of spirits.
Visual coming in hot!
Once you know how much a standard drink is, how much is too much? Well, the leading experts at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have released new alcohol guidelines that tell you just that.
The guidelines recommend you adopt the 10 and 4 rule. So that’s no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any day.
Sticking to these guidelines, or even drinking less, can help you stay on top of your mental and physical health.
Speaking to PEDESTRIAN.TV, ADF’s Knowledge Manager Laura Bajurny said cutting back on one’s alcohol intake can result in a better night’s rest, more energy (and money), and often a better overall mood.
“People who are drinking a lot more than the guidelines will likely feel the biggest difference cutting back, but a lot of people could be surprised how good they feel if they reduce drinking,” Bajurny said.
Drinking more than 10 standard drinks a week over a long period of time, however, can lead to serious health risks.
“Alcohol is a carcinogen – in other words, it causes cancer – so your risk for some cancers is going to increase,” Bajurny shared.
The more you drink – how much and how often – increases your risk of serious diseases like breast, liver, and stomach cancer. It can have negative impacts on your immune system too, and can put you at risk of experiencing alcohol dependence, which can impact your relationships, career, and finances.
Now, while the guidelines recommend 10 standard drinks per week, that absolutely doesn’t mean you can just drink them all in one sitting. If you do, it’s very likely you’ll become intoxicated quickly, increasing the risks of dangerous behaviour and accidents.
“If you drink quickly, or don’t eat beforehand, you might feel nauseous, throw up or blackout – sometimes that can mean an urgent trip to emergency,” Bajurny warned.
So cutting back is always an option. Even in very extreme cases when the body can’t ‘recover’ from years of drinking heavily, you can still “prevent more harm from being done”.
“It’s never too late,” Bajurny said.
Again, there’s no denying that people are going to get on the beers over the next few months, but some of us (me) are going to want to take it easy. My alcohol tolerance isn’t what it once was, and that’s okay.
“When our friends, family, or colleagues turn down a drink, we need to stop asking them why, as if they need a reason,” Bajurny told PTV.
“Just leave it at that. Because, while I think we’re starting to see some positive social changes, drinking’s still quite culturally embedded and we can sometimes make it harder for others, without really thinking about it.”
So if you’re thinking of cutting back when your local’s up and running again, the ADF encourages you to think of what you’re going to say ahead of time.
“Consider talking to your loved ones beforehand about your reasons and asking them to support you,” Bajurny said.
“And if you really don’t want to deal with people’s pressure, just lie – you’re on medication, you’re babysitting a loud child tomorrow, you’ve got an early start, whatever. It’s really not their business anyway.”
If you want to know how your drinking measures up, check out this Drinking Calculator from the ADF.
Don’t drink alcohol ’til you’re over 18 and do it responsibly, please!Image: How I Met Your Mother