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Education and Training Division

We've all heard the importance of "drinking responsibly," but it's not as common to hear an actual definition of what responsible alcohol use really is. So what does it mean to drink responsibly?

There are probably a lot of different answers to that question, but as it relates to binge drinking and the misuse of alcohol, one way is to consider the following responsible drinking guidelines, including the definition of a standard drink.

A standard drink is any drink that contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol (about 0.6 fluid ounces or 1.2 tablespoons).
  • 5 ounces of table wine (approximately 12% alcohol)
  • 12 ounces of beer (approximately 5% alcohol)
  • 8-9 ounces of malt liquor (approximately 7% alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (40% alcohol or 80-proof)

Keeping the standard drink definition in mind, it's important to also think about responsible drinking guidelines. To do this, remember the "0-1-2" message.
No alcohol, or O drinks, if:
  • You're not 21
  • You're driving or operating machinery
  • You're breastfeeding, pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • You're in recovery
  • You're taking medications
Up to 1 standard drink per day for women.*
Up to 2 standard drinks per day for men.*

*For older adults, just under one standard drink per day for women and one standard drink per day for men.
For more information about responsible drinking limits, visit the Rethinking Drinking website.


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