We hear more and more about standard drinks in recent times. Put simply, a standard drink is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol. One standard drink always contains the same amount of alcohol, regardless of the container size or alcohol type whether it be beer, wine or a spirit. It is basically a unit of measurement -“ just as metres measure distance, standard drinks measure a particular amount of alcohol consumed.

Instead of counting glasses or containers, drinkers are encouraged to count standard drinks as a way of keeping track of how much alcohol they consume. Counting standard drinks is believed to be a much more reliable measure of how much alcohol is consumed compared to counting glasses, bottles, or cans, as different containers contain varying amounts of alcohol. In Australia, the number of standard drinks in alcohol is always shown on the label of the container.

A great deal of time and money is dedicated to informing Australians about this measure. Without a doubt most people have heard about the concept of standard drinks, but how do they really use them?

If I asked you how you used standard drinks I could pretty well guarantee that the only way you do would be in relation to driving, i.e., how many drinks can you drink to be under the limit? It would be great to hear that most of you actually used them to drink at levels recommended in the healthy drinking guidelines, but I very much doubt it.

New controversial alcohol guidelines are currently being developed. It has been proposed that those who want to avoid drinking at unhealthy levels should drink no more than two standard drinks a day -“ both men and women. These proposed guidelines have been heavily criticised as lacking credibility. Does anyone really believe that people would use them?

So am I suggesting we scrap the whole standard drink idea? Absolutely not, but I think it is important that we all realise that the concept means very little to most Australians, apart from when they are considering driving. Even then, it needs to be remembered that the whole concept of counting anything when you’re drinking, whether it be cans or bottles or standard drinks, is extremely difficult and fraught with problems.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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