Let’s play a game, shall we? Imagine in your head a standard drink. Just one standard drink, nothing less, nothing more. Can you see it? Are you struggling like I did approximately 11 minutes ago when I asked myself this very question? Are you sorta just imagining a single beer? Yeah, me too.
Turns out a lot of us aren’t well-versed in the exact measurements of a standard drink. And by us, I mean my coworkers.
One colleague whose name I definitely shall not reveal for fear of mocking – their words not mine – guesstimated a standard drink is approximately “one”.
One what, you ask?
“I mean, a standard drink is one, no?” they answered.
To be honest, one was a common, albeit amusing answer from many.
“A single bottle regardless of content,” a different coworker told me. “A VB stubby? That’s one. A vodka double-black? Also one. A bottle of Soju? Definitely one.”
Another person said, “Really exposing my Dubbo roots when I tell you that my measurement of a standard drink is a full strength schooner… But part of me knows it’s not right.”
A schooner is 425ml, by the way.
As for me – well, I meekly mumbled something along the lines of… it’s… uh… one… of… something, yeah?
Enter the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, or ADF for short.
Now according to the ADF, one standard drink is – pause for effect – 285ml of full-strength beer, a 100ml glass of wine, or 30ml of spirits.
I would’ve never gotten that, I tell you what. And that’s a problem, because 30ml of spirits sounds small to me. It’s absolutely less than what I thought a standard drink is. And yet.
I can tell you, hand on heart, that I’ve poured more than 30ml into a tacky plastic shot glass, thinking it’s just one. But just 30ml of spirts contains a whopping 40 per cent of alcohol.
Did I just grab a measuring cup to see how much 30ml is and then wonder how something so small could be 40 per cent alcohol? Yes, yes I did. It explains a lot of my past antics when I think about it, really.
So that’s why the ADF has brought our attention to new alcohol guidelines, developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), AKA Australia’s leading experts in the field.
Bottom line: know your standard drinks, so you know what you’re drinking and how much. That way, you can stay on top of your intake while avoiding alcohol harm to your health (and poor friends on your Instagram Story who did not need to watch you butcher a tune from High School Musical at 3am).
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with standard drinks, 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.
Limiting your alcohol intake can reduce the risks of alcohol-related diseases down the line, like breast, liver and stomach cancer, liver damage, or serious bodily injuries to otherwise healthy adults.
It goes without saying that anyone under the age of 18 shouldn’t drink alcohol because of the risks it poses to developing brains. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also avoid getting on the beers.
Even if you do know all of this already, there’s no harm in brushing up on it. Some day soon, we’ll be out of lockdown and pubs and clubs will reopen to the masses. I can’t wait to pull up a stool at my local, have a drink with dinner at a restaurant, and clink glasses with my mate at their place (!!!) but I know my alcohol tolerance is nowhere near what it was in 2019. It’s much lower after months cooped inside.
So, if that sounds like you, keep in mind what you’ve read today. Look after yourself, y’know? Take it easy, especially come Christmas and New Years. And if you aren’t too sure about 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: White Lotus