For many adults, a drink after work or with family and friends is just part of socialising and relaxing.
For others, one drink is never enough. Find out how much is a standard drink, the effects of alcohol on our bodies and where to get help if you or a loved one's drinking is becoming a problem.
What is a standard drink?
A standard drink = 10g of alcohol. This is how much alcohol is typically found in:
- 330ml can of beer
- 100 ml of wine
- 30ml straight spirits.
When not to drink alcohol
It's advisable not to drink if you:
- are pregnant or planning to get pregnant
- are on medication that interacts with alcohol
- have a condition made worse by drinking alcohol
- feel unwell, depressed, tired or cold as alcohol could make things worse
- are about to operate machinery or a vehicle or do anything that is risky or requires skill.
Symptoms of problem drinking
Drinking too much at one go (binge drinking) or drinking too much over time (alcohol misuse) can both lead to long-term health problems.
People who have alcoholism or alcohol abuse often:
- Continue to drink, even when health, work, or family are being harmed.
- Drink alone.
- Become violent when drinking.
- Are not able to control drinking - being unable to stop or reduce alcohol intake.
- Make excuses to drink.
- Need to use alcohol on most days to get through the day.
- Try to hide alcohol use.
How to cut back
The first step is recognising when your drinking could be causing you harm or affecting your life (relationships, work, personality etc).
- Learn about how to recognise an addiction.
- If you think you have an addiction or problem with your drinking, seek help from someone you trust or call a crisis line.
Cut down or stop
Some people who drink too much may be able to simply cut down – this is called drinking in moderation. If you try and find it hard to stop once you start drinking, you should try to quit drinking completely.
Just like smoking, alcohol can cause physical dependence or addiction and some people cannot cut down. If this is you, then you need to abstain or quit drinking completely before it ruins your life. There are lots of groups keen to help you with the resources, moral support and motivation to achieve this.
Learn to handle stress
- find ways to handle stress that don’t involve alcohol (eg, going to the gym, walking the dog, talking to a friend, relaxation techniques)
- plan ahead for social situations where you might be tempted to drink
- learn about problem drinking and addiction.
- seek out a support person who will listen, motivate you, and help keep you safe.
There are a number of organisations and people who can help you get help with alcohol and drinking for either yourself or a loved one. See the side bar.
Is your drinking okay Health Promotion Agency