DEFINITION OF DRINKERS AND DRINKS

See also: What is a standard drink? 

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the moderate drinker as having no more than two drinks per day for most males and no more than one drink per day for most females. "Binge use" is defined as five drinks on the same occasion in the past month and "heavy use" as five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least five different days in the past month (SAMSHA. From "Moderate drinking," ALCOHOL ALERT, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: (1992), April, 6 p.

About.com, "Nine types of binge drinkers identified", September, 8, 2008. "British researchers have studied the social and psychological characteristics of drinkers who regularly consume twice the recommended amounts of alcohol and have identified nine types of heavy drinkers.

"According to the British National Health Service, alcohol-related illnesses cost the government about $5 billion a year in healthcare expenses.

"This will be a tough one to crack," a spokesperson told Lucy Cockcroft in a report for the "The Telegraph". "Research found many positive associations with alcohol among the general public - even more so among those drinking at higher-risk levels. For These people alcohol is embedded in their identity and lifestyle: so much so much so that challenging this behavior results in high levels of defensiveness, rejection or even outright denial.

Nine Types of Binge Drinkers:
De-Stress Drinkers use alcohol to regain control of life and calm down. They include middle-class women and men.
Conformist Drinkers are driven by the need to belong and seek a structure to their life. They are typically men aged 45 to 59 in clerical or manual jobs.
Boredom Drinkers consume alcohol to pass the time, seeking stimulation to relive the monotony of life. Alcohol helps them to feel comforted and secure.
Depressed Drinkers may be of any age, gender or socioeconomic group. They crave comfort, safety and security.
Re-Bonding Drinkers are driven by a need to keep in touch with people who are close to them.
Community Drinkers are motivated by the need to belong. They are usually lower middle class men and women who drink in large friendship groups.
Hedonistic Drinkers crave stimulation and want to abandon control. They are often divorced people with grown-up children, who want to stand out from the crowd.
Macho Drinkers spend most of their spare time in pubs. They are mostly men of all ages who what to stand out from the crowd.
Border Dependents regard the pub as a home from home. They visit during the day and the evening, on weekdays, and at weekends, drinking fast and often."

Anda, R. F.; Williamson, D. F.; Remington, P. L.; "Alcohol and fatal injuries among U. S. adults: Findings from the NHANES I Epidemiologic Follow-up Study," JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (1988), 260 (17):2529-2532. (The relationship of self-reported alcohol use to the incidence of fatal injuries in a nationally representative study of U. S. adults is examined. Two measures of alcohol use, the number of drinks consumed per occasion and the frequency of drinking, were studied and evidence for a dose-response relationship between these measures and death from injury was examined. After adjusting for the effects of age, sex, race, and education, the results indicated that persons who consumed five or more drinks per occasion were almost twice as likely to die from injuries than persons who drank fewer than five drinks per occasion. A dose-response relationship exists between the usual number of drinks consumed per occasion and risk of fatal injury. Persons who consumed more than nine drinks per occasion were 3.3 times more likely to die from injuries.)

Archer, L.; Grant, B. F.; Dawson, D. A.; "What if Americans drank less? The potential effect on the prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence," AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PUBLIC HEALTH (1995), 85 (1): 61-6. (The results demonstrated that restricting drinking to the maximum levels under the existing and the modified guidelines should reduce the prevalence of alcohol abuse and dependence by 14.2% and 47.1% respectively in the adult US general population. Moderate drinking levels are defined as 2 drinks for males and one drink for females per day and consuming five or more drinks on any one occasion is associated with an increased risk of alcohol-related problems.)

Baker, S. P; Braver, E. R.; Chen, L. H.; Li, G.; Williams, A. F.; "Drinking histories of fatally injured drivers," INJURY PREVENTION (2002), 8:221-226. About 30% of drivers killed in crashes have high blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of 0.10+g/dl. There is a question about whether these drivers primarily are problem drinkers who chronically drink and drive--the so-called hard core drinking drivers. 818 fatally injured drivers who were included in the 1993 National Fatality Analysis Followback Survey and whose BACs were recorded by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a census of US traffic deaths. Results: At least one indicator of potential problem drinking, primarily heavy drinking, was reported for 68% of drivers with very high BACs (0.15+ g/dl), 41% with BACs of 0.10-0.14 g/dl, 32# with BACs of 0.01-0.09 g/dl, and 7% with zero BACs. Spouses provided the most credible responses that other relatives; they were more likely to report at least occasional drinking and driving among deceased drivers with high BACs. For the most direct signs of problem drinking described as a problem drinker during the last month or life or frequently driving after having five or more drinks), spousal reports suggested problem drinking among drivers with very high BACs was 22% (having both indicators), 32% (frequently driving after having five or more drinks, (44% (described as problem drinkers), or 57% (having either indicator). Conclusions: Drivers with BACs of 0.10+ g/dl were far more likely than sober drivers to be described as having markers of problem drinking. However, many did not have indicators suggestive of problem drinking. In addition to programs focused on repeat offenders or problem drinkers, countermeasures such as sobriety checkpoints that target a broader spectrum of drinking drivers are appropriate."

Brewer, Robert D.; Swahn, Monica H.; "Binge drinking and violence", JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (2005), Aug 3; 294 (5): 616-8. "Excessive consumption of alcohol as responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths and 2.3 million years of potential life lost (about 30 years of life lost per death) in the United States in 2001. Binge drinking, typically defined as the consumption of 5 or more alcoholic drinks on 1 occasion for a man or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for a woman, accounted for more than half of all these deaths and for approximately two thirds of the tears of potential life lost. Binge drinking is also associated with a wide range of serious health and social problems, including sexually transmitted disease, unintended pregnancy, sudden infant death syndrome, acute myocardial infarction, and motor vehicle crashes. The World Health Organization estimates that use of alcohol, including binge drinking, is responsible for 4% of the global burden of disease. . ."

Bullers, Susan; Ennis, Melissa; "Effects of blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) feedback on BAC estimates over time", Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education (2006), Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, posted 07/17/06. 19 participants. Participants were asked to estimate the accuracy of BACs over time with charts, some of whom were light, moderate and heavy drinkers. (Small sample, 15 recruits were paid to volunteer their time. Interesting bibliography of drinking research.

Center For Disease Control
"What is a standard drink?" and "What does moderate drinking mean?"
http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm#standDrink

Chamberlain, E; Solomon, R.; "The tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the hard cord drinking driver," INJURY PREVENTION (2001), 7: 272-75. "The recent focus on 'hard core' drinking drivers marginalizes the impaired driving problem and inhibits substantive legislative reform. A sizable percentage of so-called 'social drinkers' engage in binge drinking behavior that is sufficient to produce BACs in the typical 'hard core' range. Nearly 20% of licensed drivers in Canada continue to drink and drive. Infrequent drinkers have a much higher relative risk of crash than heavy drinkers with the same BACs. It would be prudent to discard the value laden labels of 'social drinkers' and 'hard cord' drinking drivers and focus instead on high risk drinking behaviors."

Dawson, D. A.; Grant, B.F.; Chou, S. P.; Pickering, R. P.; "Subgroup variation in U. S. drinking patterns: Results of the 1992 National longitudinal alcohol epidemiologic study," JOURNAL OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE (1995), 7(3):331-344, 1995. (The 1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Study revealed 44 percent of U. S. adults 18 years of age and older were current drinkers who had consumed at least 12 drinks in the year preceding the interview. 22 percent were former drinkers, and 34 percent were lifetime abstainers. 8 percent decrease in the prevalence of drinking relative to 1988. The proportion of current drinkers decreased with age, was higher for men than women, increased with education and income, was lower than average among black and Hispanic adults, was highest among never-married adults and lowest among those who were widowed, was lower in the South than in other regions, and was lower in rural than urban areas. The probabilities of having consumed five or more drinks or having been intoxicated in the past year revealed similar patterns, the probability of heavy drinking or intoxication on a weekly or more frequent basis showed no variation by race or ethnicity. The probability of heavy drinking decreased with education and income.)

DeJong, W.; Hingson, R.; "Strategies to reduce driving under the influence of alcohol," ANNUAL REVIEW OF PUBLIC HEALTH (1998), 19:359-86. (Review to update literature on alcohol related deaths since 1988. Four primary areas are include: general deterrence policies, alcohol control policies, mass communications campaigns and community traffic safety programs. "People who drive after heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks consumed on a single occasion) are much more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, running red lights, driving after other drug use, and failing to wear seat belts," p. 362.)

Demers, A.; "When at risk? Drinking contexts and heavy drinking in the Montreal adult population," CONTEMPORARY DRUG PROBLEMS (1997), 24 (3):449-471,. (This study's purpose is to identify the characteristics of contexts associated with heavier alcohol intake. Data come from a telephone survey conducted in April 1993 using a random sample of the metropolitan Montreal adult population . Drinking contexts were investigated with setting (circumstances, time, and location) and the relational setting (drinking partners' relationship and sociodemographic similarity) characterizing the drinking occasion. Having five or more drinks per occasion, linked by many studies to alcohol-related problems, was deemed to be heavy drinking. The results reveal that for men under 25 years old, drinking with other men is the only contextual characteristic associated positively with heavy drinking, while for men age 25 and over, situational characteristics as well as relational characteristics are associated positively with heavy drinking. Heavy drinking for women is weakly associated with setting characteristics.)

Dufour, Mary C.,"What is moderate drinking?: defining "drinks" and "drinking levels." ALCOHOL RESEARCH AND HEALTH (1999), 23 (1): 5-14. Definition of a standard drink--the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have developed a commonly used definition of a standard drink that has been published in NUTRITION AND YOUR HEALTH: DIETARY GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS (DHHS and USDA 1995). According to that definition, a standard drink contains approximately 0.5 fl oz (or approximately 12 g) alcohol and corresponds to the following beverage amounts:12 fl oz regular beer; 5 fl oz wine; 1.5 fl oz 80-proof distilled spirits. Drinking definitions: Abstainer: drinks less than 0.01 fl oz alcohol per day (i.e., fewer than 12 drinks in the past year); Light drinker: drinks .0.001 to 0.21 fl oz alcohol per day (i. e., 1 to 13 drinks per month);Moderate drinker: drinks 0.01 drinks 0.22 to 1.00 fl oz alcohol per day (i.e., 4 to 14 drinks per week); Heavier drinker: drinks more than 1.00 fl oz alcohol per day (i. e., more than 2 drinks per day).

Groerer, J.; Preliminary estimates from the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Advance Report Number 18. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Office of Applied Studies, 1996. 99 p. (Presents results from the 1995 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an annual survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The survey provides estimates of the of use of illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, based on a nationally representative sample of the civilian population age 12 and older. In 1995, a sample of 17,474 persons was interviewed for the survey. Selected findings include information on illicit drug use, alcohol use, cigarette use, and specific drug use by women of childbearing age. In 1995, an estimated 111 million Americans age 12 and older had used alcohol in the past month, 52 percent of the population. About 32 million engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks on at least one occasion in the past month) and about 11 million were heavy drinkers, drinking five or more drinks per occasion on 5 or more days in the past month. There were no changes in rates of alcohol use between 1994 and 1995. About 10 million current drinkers were under age 21 in 1995, with 4.4 million binge drinkers, including 1.7 million heavy drinkers. Includes information on smoking and illicit drug use.)

Hingson, R.; "Prevention of drinking and driving," ALCOHOL HEALTH AND RESEARCH WORLD (1996), 22, Sept.: 219-27. (Fourth, people who drive after heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks in one sitting) are much more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors, such as speeding,running red lights, making illegal turns, driving after other drug use, and failure to wear a safety belts. "For all groups of drivers, fatal crash involvement per miles driven increases ten fold at BAC's of 0.05 to 0.09 percent, Zador, 1991.")

Kerr, William C.; Brown, Stephan, Greenfield, Thomas K., "National and state estimates of the mean ethanol content of beer sold in the US and their impact on per capital consumption estimates: 1988-2001", ALCOHOLISM: CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH (2004), 28 (10):1524-1532. The national mean ethanol content of beer was higher than the 4.5% figure typically used, ranging from 4.58% in 1993 to 4.75% in 1996. For example, in 2000, the national estimate indicates that nearly 10 more drinks (containing 0.6 oz of ethanol) were consumed per person aged 14 years and older during that year. Conclusions: This may indicate that a larger than previously estimated share of the alcohol consumed in the US is in the form of beer. However, the results also indicate that empirically based estimates of wind and spirits mean that ethanol content may modify their consumption rates as well.

King, A.; "Effects of alcohol can predict binge drinking," ALCOHOLISM: CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH (2002) "The study demonstrated that those drinkers who experience 'euphoria and stimulation' from their first drink are more likely to drink excessively, while those who experience a 'sedative' effect will drink lightly. Within 15 minutes of their first drink--when blood-alcohol level had just begun to rise--the heavy drinking group demonstrated a rapid increase in feelings of euphoria, vigor talkativeness and excitement. The light drinking group did not sow any such changes in stimulation. Over 55 percent of the heavy drinking group said they liked the feeling they had shortly after beginning to drink-- and said they wanted to drink more. Only 30 percent of the light drinkers felt the same way. "Most people in college who binge think they[re doing it at that time, and that they'll grow out of it and it's not a big deal, King said. But certainly there's a percentage that goes on to be alcohol dependent."

Lundy, C.; Carver, V.; Pederson, L. Young women: Alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. In: M. Adrian, C. Lundy, and M. Eliany, Eds., Women's use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Canada, Toronto: Addiction Research Foundation, 1996, 265 p (pp. 38-51). (Trends in substance use over the past decade by Canadian women in the 15-19 age group, including an overview, an analysis of data from the 1989 National Alcohol and Other Drugs Survey (NADS), and an analysis of the drug use problem among young women. Although the percentage of young women who are current drinkers has not changed substantially in the past 10 years, there has been a substantial increase in the percentage of former drinkers, and a decline in the percentage of nondrinkers. One-third of Canadian boys and girls begin drinking at between ages 14 and 15. Early onset may partly explain the increase proportion of former drinkers, if young people who start at an earlier age decide to stop after encountering problems. Surveys of students in show a general decline in alcohol use among junior and senior high school students over the past decade. A survey of street youths in Toronto found that 8 percent of young women were daily drinkers, 18 percent drank 29 or more drinks in the previous 7 days, and 22 percent had consumed five or more drinks on a single occasion five or more times in the previous four weeks. Data from the NADS are analyzed to determine young women's.)

Maxwell, Linda Baier; Fleming, Michael; "Harmful alcohol consumption," In: HANDBOOK OF ALCOHOLISM, edited by Gerald Zernig, Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2000, pp. 325-329. (For the purpose of this chapter, "at-risk" drinkers are defined as meant who drink more than 14 standards drinks per week (12 g alcohol per drink or >168 g per week) or more than four drinks per occasion one or more times per week; and women who drink more than seven drinks per week (>98 g alcohol per week), or more than three drinks per occasion one or more times per week. These criteria are recommended by the U. S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Persons who drink less than these limits are considered "low risk" drinkers unless they are drinking during pregnancy, in the presence of certain medical problems or driving a motorized vehicle.

To meet a definition of alcohol abuse, the patient needs to meet at least one of the following criteria in the previous 12 months: (1) continued alcohol use despite recurring problems; 920 recurrent use in hazardous situations; (3) drinking resulting in failure to fulfill major role obligations; or (4) recurrent legal problems. Persons who do not meet these criteria; but who drink above recommended limits, are considered at-risk drinkers.

Meyerhoff, D. J.; Blumefled, R.; Truran, D.; Lindgren, J.; Flenniken, D.; Cardenas, V.; Chao, L. L.; Rothchild, J.; Studholme, C.; Weiner, M. W.; Effects of heavy drinking, binge drinking, and family history of alcoholism on regional brain metabolites, ALCOHOLISM : CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH (April, 2004) 28(4): 650-661. The study was comprised of 46 chronic, heavy drinkers, (38 males 8 females) and 53 light drinkers (32 males, 20 females). Community-dwelling heavy drinkers who are not in alcoholism treatment have brain metabolite changes that are associated with lover brain function and are likely of behavioral significance. Age, family history of drinking,, and binge drinking modulate brain metabolite abnormalities. Metabolite changes in active heavy drinkers are less pronounced and present with a different spatial and metabolite pattern than reported in abstinent alcoholics. Meyerhoff said some of the behaviors that could be associated with the metabolite changes include the inability to apply consequences from past actions, difficulties with abstract concepts of time and money, difficulties with storing and retrieving information, and frequently needing external motivators. Heavy drinking damages your brain ever so slightly, reducing your cognitive function in ways that may not be readily noticeable.

Midanik, L. T.; Tam, T. W.; Greenfield, T. K.; Caetano, R.; "Risk functions for alcohol-related problems in a 1988 US national sample," ADDICTION (1996), 91 (10): 1427-37. (To assess the relationship of alcohol use and three types of alcohol-related problems [dependence syndrome, work problems and drunk driving], risk curves developed for average number of drinks per day during last year [volume] and number of days drinking five or more drinks during one day. The risk for all types of problems at lower and moderate levels of drinking was significantly higher for respondents who had five or more drinks during one day in the last year. These findings underscore the importance of examining risk [physical and social] at lower levels of drinking and for using both overall volume and heavier quantity per occasion drinking measures when assessing risk for alcohol-related problem.)

Moss, Howard B.; "Chenb, Chiung M.; Yi, Hsiao-ye; "Subtypes of alcohol dependence in a nationally representative sample", DRUG AND ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE (2007). The NIAAA researchers have identified five subtypes of alcoholics by the following specific characteristics:
--Young Adult Alcoholics--31.5 percent. young adult drinkers, with relatively low rates of co-occurring substance abuse and mental disorders; low rates of family alcoholism; rarely seek any kind of help for their drinking.
--Young Antisocial Alcoholic--21 percent; most are in their mid-20's and have early onset of regular drinking and early onset alcohol problems; more than half come from families with alcoholism, and about half have a psychiatric diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder; many have major depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety problems; more than 75 percent smoke cigarettes and marijuana and many also have cocaine and opiate addictions; more than one-third seek help for their drinking.
--Functional Alcoholics--19.5 percent; typically middle-age, well-educated, with stable jobs and families; about one-third have a multigenerational family history of alcoholism; one-quarter had major depressive illness at some time in their lives; nearly 50 percent are smokers.
--Intermediate Familial Alcoholics--19 percent; middle-aged individuals who had early onset of drinking and alcohol problems; high rates of antisocial personality disorder and criminality; almost 80 percent come from familles with multigenerational alcoholism; they have the highest rates of other psychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders; this group has high rates of smoking, and marijuana, cocaine, and opiate dependence; two-thirds seek help for their drinking problems, making them the most prevalent type of alcoholic in treatment.

Muthen, Bengt O.; Muthen, Linda K.; " The development of heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems from ages 18 to 37 in a U. S. national sample," JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL (2000), 81 (2): 290-300. " N=7859 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY). Results: A key finding is that dropping out of high school has no effect on alcohol-related problems for individuals in the mid-twenties, but is associated with significantly increased levels of alcohol-related problems for individuals in their mid thirties, in contrast, going on to college is associated with lower levels of heavy drinking when individuals reach their late twenties and their thirties. Strong gender and ethnicity effects seen in the twenties diminish when individuals reach their thirties. Conclusions: The trajectory analysis expands the knowledge of problematic alcohol development for individuals in their late twenties and thirties. The increasing detrimental effect of dropping out of high school up to the age 37 endpoint of the study raises questions about the effects in later life of dropping out of high school."

Nichols, J. M.; Martin, F.; "The Effect of heavy social drinking on recall and event-related potentials," JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL (1996), 57: 125-135. (HSD heavy social drinker is defined as who drank more and 200 gm per week, or 20 standard drinks per week which included one session in which at least 100 mg or 10 standard drinks were consumed. 28 subjects half social heavy drinkers given lorazepam-ativan and placebo. Results indicate heavy social drinkers have an impairment in their information-processing ability in the presence of an acute inhibitory agent.)

Quinlan, Kyran P.; Brewer, Robert D.; Siegel, Paul; Sleet, David; Mokdad, Ali H.; Shults, Ruth A.; Flowers, Nicole; "Alcohol-impaired driving among U. S. adults, 1993-2002", AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE (2005), 28 (4), 346-350. The researchers, all based at the time at the CDC, analyzed telephone surveys with more than 100,000 people in the United States in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999 and 2002. Respondents, aged 18 or older, were asked about their drinking habits, especially binge drinking. Those who did drink alcohol were asked: "During the past month, how many times have you driven when you've perhaps had too much to drink?" People who reported binge drinking were 13 times more likely to report driving while alcohol impaired. Most binge drinkers reported that they often consume far more than five drinks per binge.

"The increase in alcohol-impaired driving episodes," the authors conclude, "is probably due, at least in part, to the substantial increase in binge drinking episodes… Indeed, prevention efforts in the United States are likely to be of limited success unless they are couple with efforts to also reduce the prevalence of binge drinking. The authors suggest renewed efforts to deter alcohol-impaired driving, such as lowering the legal blood-alcohol levels, prompt suspension of a driver's license for people arrested for AID, sobriety checkpoints, alcohol-ignition interlock programs and sustained public education. They also call for greater efforts to reduce binge drinking.

Reifman, A.; Barnes, G. M.; Dintcheff, B. A.; Farrell, M. P.; Uhteg, L. "Parental and peer influences on the onset of heavier drinking among adolescents," JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL ( 1998), 59(3):311-317. (The study examined weekly and heavy episodic (five or more drinks at a time) adolescent drinking and social influence (modeling and social control) from parents and peers. A study was conducted using a household sample of 612 families in metropolitan Buffalo, New York. 54 percent of the adolescent respondents were female. Black families made up 30 percent of the sample. Interviews were conducted at one year intervals. The strongest psycho social predictors of heavier drinking were friends drinking and low parental monitoring. White adolescents were at greater risk than their black counterparts. An approach to prevention addressing the processes of influence (e.g. modeling and social control) involving both parental and peer domains is likely to be most successful in deterring the onset of heavier drinking in adolescents.)

"State of the science report on the effects of moderate drinking", December 13, 2003. The NIAAA was asked to assess the strength of the evidence related to health risks and potential benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, with particular focus on the areas of cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, birth defects, obesity, breast feeding, and aging. Moderate drinking is defined as not more than one drink for females and two drinks per day for males.
http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/ModerateDrinking-03.htm

Townsend, Julia M., Duka, Theodora, "Binge drinking, cognitive performance and mood in a population of young social drinkers", ALCOHOLISM: CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH (2005), 29 (3):317-325. Binge drinking by young people is on the rise in several countries. Previous research suggests that binge drinking may have implications for the development of alcohol dependence. New findings demonstrate that binge drinking itself has negative behavioral consequences, affecting mood and cognitive performance.

Wechsler, Henry; and Nelson, Toben F.;" Binge drinking and the American college student : what's five drinks?"; PSYCHOLOGY OF ADDICTIVE BEHAVIORS (2001), 15 (4): 287-91. The use of the term binge drinking and the 5/4 (five drinks per occasion for men and 4 drunks per occasion for women per day)measure have helped to advance the understanding of college alcohol use over the past 10 years. This article discusses the importance, relevance, and utility of this measure.

"What is a standard drink?" (PDF), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Updated 2005. From About.com filed in Alcoholism 101. In the United States, a standard drinks is any alcoholic beverage that contains 0.6 fluid ounces (14 grams) of pure alcohol. That equals about 1.2 tablespoons of alcohol. The following are generally considered one standard drink:
--12 oz. of beer or wine cooler
--8-9 oz. of malt liquor
--5 oz. table wine
--3-4 oz. fortified wine (sherry or port)
--2-3 oz. of liqueur, cordial or apertif
--1.5 oz. of brandy
--1.5 oz. of spirits (whiskey, gin, vodka, etc.)
The above examples are approximate because many brands and types of alcoholic beverages vary in actual alcohol content. Check the label for percent of alcohol content.

 

updated 12/16/16