• Regular beer: 5% alcohol content
  • Some light beers: 4.2% alcohol content

That’s why it’s important to know how much alcohol your drink contains.  In the United States, one “standard” drink contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in:

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol

How do you know how much alcohol is in your drink?

Even though they come in different sizes, the drinks below are each examples of one standard drink:

The Basics: Don’t Drink If…

Who needs to avoid drinking completely?
Don’t drink at all if you:

  • Are pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • Are under age 21
  • Take certain over-the-counter or prescription medicines (check the medicine label)
  • Are recovering from alcoholism
  • Have a health condition that can be made worse by drinking (like liver disease)

It’s also very important to avoid drinking if you plan to drive a car or use a machine (like a lawn mower).

Take Action: Set Limits

If you discover you are drinking alcohol more than recommended, here are some strategies to help you cut back or stop drinking.

Keep track of your drinking.

  • Step 1: Set a drinking limit. For example, you may decide to have no more than 3 drinks per week.
  • Step 2: Write your drinking limit on a piece of paper.
  • Step 3: Write down every time you have a drink for 1 week. This drinking tracker card can help.

Take a day off from drinking.
Choose a day each week (for example, Tuesday) when you will not drink.

Don’t drink when you are upset.
If you have a bad day or are feeling angry, don’t reach for a drink. Try taking a walk, calling a friend, or seeing a movie. Find healthy ways to manage stress.

Avoid places where people drink a lot.
Stay away from bars and other places that may make you want to drink.

If you find your drinking is out of control:

Ask for help if you need it.
Ask your friends and family to support you. Talk to a doctor or nurse if you are having a hard time cutting down on your drinking. Don’t give up!

What about cost?
Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, health care plans must cover screening and counseling for alcohol misuse. Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get these services at no cost to you.

Check with your insurance provider to find out what’s included in your plan.

Are you worried about a loved one’s drinking?
Use these tips to talk with someone about cutting back or quitting drinking.