Learning to keep your alcohol intake in check is the first step in drinking responsibly. It’s also important to be responsible for your own actions, and to ask for help when you need it.
This can help if:
- you want to know how to drink alcohol and stay safe
- you’ve never been drunk before and want to know how to go about it
- you’re looking for information to give to a friend about responsible drinking.
What is responsible drinking?
Being a responsible drinker basically means:
- making sure you’re safe
- making sure other people are safe
- avoiding dangerous situations
- minimising the risks to yourself and others
- having a good time.
What’s a standard drink?
In Australian bars, clubs and pubs, alcohol should be served in what’s called a ‘standard drink’. This makes it a bit easier to control the amount of alcohol a person is drinking in one session.
One standard drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol, which can be a small, strong shot or a large, weaker drink.
Each of the following is one standard drink:
- 425 ml schooner of light beer (2.7% alcohol)
- 285 ml middy of regular beer (4.9% alcohol)
- 100 ml glass of wine (12% alcohol)
- 30 ml shot of spirits (40% alcohol)
- 60 ml glass of port or sherry (20% alcohol).
It’s important to remember that the size of drinks served at some places, particularly at parties or at home, can have more alcohol than the defined standard drink. A single cocktail or a glass of party punch might be the equivalent of up to six standard drinks.
How can I be a responsible drinker?
Know your limits
Don’t drink too much, and don’t drink too quickly. In practice, this basically looks like having one drink per hour, with water or a soft drink in-between alcoholic drinks. When you feel drunk, stop drinking.
Don’t drink and drive
If you have to drive, don’t drink. Make arrangements for how you’ll get home before you go out. Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows down your reaction speed, which means if you need to think and act quickly, you probably won’t be able to.
Learner, P1 and P2 drivers aren’t allowed to have any alcohol in their system while driving. Normal licence holders are permitted to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05, which is still very low, less than one drink in your system. Don’t risk it. If you’re drinking, plan to use a taxi, Uber or a designated driver to get you around.
Avoid mixing alcohol and other drugs
That means both prescription drugs and recreational drugs. Make sure you know how alcohol will react with any medications you’re on. If you decide to take drugs, don’t drink alcohol. You’ll usually end up pretty sick if you combine the two.
Use common sense
If it doesn’t sound like a good idea, it probably isn’t one. If you’re not comfortable with the environment you’re in or are worried about bad things happening, just call it a night.
I think I need more help
If you’ve tried drinking responsibly and it’s not working, you could have a drinking problem. The easiest and quickest way to get help is to talk to someone about it. The sooner you open up about what you’re going through, the sooner you’ll start to feel a bit better.
If talking to someone isn't your thing, there is other support and help out there. It can be hard to know where to find the right support you need. ReachOut NextStep is an anonymous online tool that recommends relevant support options based on what you want help with.