The alcohol content of standard drinks of beer, wine or distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink) are equivalent—about six-tenths of an ounce each. They’re all the same to a Breathalyzer. So it’s not which you choose to drink but how much you drink that’s important.
The health benefits associated with drinking in moderation are also similar for beer, wine and spirits. The primary factor associated with health and longevity appears to be the alcohol itself.
Knowing about this alcohol equivalence can help us drink sensibly and in moderation. In the words of the American Dietetic Association, “Knowing the facts of beverage alcohol equivalence is a crucial aspect of responsible drinking.” For example, people won’t be fooled by the myth that drinking “hard liquor” leads more quickly to intoxication than other alcoholic beverages.
Understanding alcohol equivalence prevents us from being fooled into thinking that “just having a few of beers” before driving is safer than having a few glasses of dinner wine or a few shots of whiskey or Martinis. Being aware of alcohol equivalence can help us avoid driving while impaired or intoxicated. That can prevent us from having trouble with the law, but much more important, it can prevent injuries and save lives.
Knowing about alcohol equivalence also helps us understand that there is no drink of moderation, only behaviors of moderation.
In a poll of physicians, 95% said it is important that people understand the alcohol equivalence of standard drinks and 98% believe it important for doctors to communicate this and other information about alcohol consumption.
The research was conducted by the American Medical Women’s Association, the oldest and largest multi-specialty association of women physicians in the world.
Dr. Raymond Scaletter, former Chairman (i.e., head or president) of the American Medical Association says “Incorporating standard drink information into routine examinations will help to reinforce moderation in those who drink and to identify problems associated with alcohol abuse.” The medical leader says that it’s important for doctors to “reinforce moderate and responsible drinking.”
Tips for Drinking in Moderation
• Know your limit. If you are not sure, experiment at home with your spouse or some other responsible individual. Explain what you are attempting to learn. Most people find that they can consume one drink per hour without any ill effects. Also, experiment with the Drink Wheel, which is very informative.
• Eat food while you drink. Food, especially high protein food such as meat, cheese and peanuts, will help slow the absorption of alcohol into your body.
•Sip your drink. If you gulp a drink, you lose the pleasure of savoring its flavors and aromas.
• Don’t participate in “chugging” contests or other drinking games.
• Accept a drink only when you really want one. If someone tries to force a drink on you, ask for a non-alcohol beverage instead. If that doesn’t work, “lose” your drink by setting it down somewhere and leaving it
• Skip a drink now and then. Having a non-alcoholic drink between alcoholic ones will help keep your blood alcohol content level down, as does spacing out your alcoholic drinks.
• Keep active; don’t just sit around and drink. If you stay active you tend to drink less and to be more aware of any effects alcohol may be having on you.
• Beware of unfamiliar drinks. Some drinks, such as zombies and other fruit drinks, can be deceiving as the alcohol content is not detectable. Therefore, it is difficult to space them properly.
• Use alcohol carefully in connection with pharmaceuticals. Ask your physician or pharmacist about any precautions or prohibitions and follow any advice received.
A glass of white or red wine, a bottle of beer, and a shot of whiskey or other distilled spirits all contain equivalent amounts of alcohol and are they same to a Breathalyzer. A standard drink is:
• A 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer
• A 5-ounce glass of wine
• A 1½ ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink)