Doctors’ Medical Advice on Drinking Alcohol

Anyone who consumes alcoholic beverages should know this important fact:

A glass of wine, a bottle of beer, and a shot of whiskey or other distilled spirits all contain equivalent amounts of alcohol and they are the same to a Breathalyzer. A standard drink is:

  • A 12-ounce bottle or can of regular beer
  • A 5-ounce glass of wine
  • A one and 1/2 ounce drink of 80 proof distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink.

Knowing about this alcohol equivalence can help people 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.” 1 For example, people won’t be fooled by the myth that drinking “hard liquor” leads more quickly to intoxication than other alcoholic beverages.

In a recent 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.

Standard Drinks and Alcohol Equivalence

Learn what they are and why they'’re very important.

The research was conducted by the American Medical Women’s Association, the oldest and largest multispecialty association of women physicians in the world.

Dr. Raymond Scaletter, former Chairman 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.” 2

References and Readings

  • 1. American dietetic Association. Nutrition Fact Sheet: Moderate Consumption of Distilled Spirits and other Beverage Alcohol in an Adult Diet. Chicago, IL: American dietetic Association, 2001, p. 1.
  • 2. American Medical Women’s Association. With Dietary Guidelines Announcement Tomorrow, New Survey Shows that Majority of Doctors Talk to Their Patients About Alcohol; Physicians Agree More Standard Drink Education Needed. American Medical Women’s Association press release, January 11, 2005.

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