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Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

What is a Standard Drink?

In the United States, a "standard" drink is any drink that contains about 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of "pure" alcohol. That's equivalent to a 12-oz. beer containing 5% alcohol, a 5-oz. glass of wine containing 12% alcohol, or a 1.5-oz. shot of 80-proof distilled spirits (40% alcohol); they all contain 0.6 ounces of alcohol.

One beer, one shot of liquor and one glass of wine have about the same amount of alcohol. But, one red cup typically contains more alcohol than a standard drink.
12 fluid ounces of regular beer is 5% alcohol 1.5-oz. shot of 80 proof distilled spirits is 40% alcohol 5-oz. glass of table wine is 12% alcohol 16-oz. party cup of regular beer is 1.3 standard drinks

The typical red party cup shown above is 16 ounces (some are 18 ounces or more!); if you filled it with beer you would be consuming 1.3 drinks.

TThe alcohol content can vary with different types of beer, wine, or malt liquor. If you want to know more about standard or equivalent drinks or the alcohol content of a canned or bottled beverages, go to What is a Standard Drink?

How strong is your mixed drink or cocktail? Depending on the recipe, you can have one, two, or more "standard" drinks in one cocktail or mixed drink. Find out at Cocktail content calculator.

Using the red party cup for mixed drinks without a shot glass can easily lead to an unknown quantity of alcohol being consumed and exceeding your tolerance. Let's say you make a mixed drink that is half full of 80-proof hard alcohol and the rest is juice in a red party cup. This "one drink" is really six standard drinks containing 40% alcohol. Mix your own drink; it is your best bet of knowing what goes into it. Using a shot glass to measure is the most accurate way of ensuring you're sticking to a standard drink.

What is Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or higher within about two hours. For the typical adult, it's about four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men. Know how many (standard) drinks you have, then use the BAC charts to keep yourself at a low risk or safe level.


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Boynton Health

410 Church Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN, 55455

P: 612-625-8400 | F: 612-625-1434