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Is One Serving of Alcohol Too Much?

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The countdown to summer break has begun, leaving students and families eager to get away from school and work in order to have some fun. These long hot days and warm nights bring some of the best memories each year. Admittedly, alcohol has a big part in that because it allows everyone to relax and loosen up. Moreover, if there is no work, school, or another obligation to attend to the next morning, the alcohol will keep flowing. With that being said, the alcohol consumption should only go so far. Each individual should know when to say no to a drink.

The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in California is 0.08%. It does not take the same amount of drinks for everyone to reach that level. How much alcohol has an effect on someone depends on a large number of factors. Person A can have 3 drinks, be at 0.04%, and feel extremely drunk. Meanwhile Person B can have 5 drinks, be at 0.07% and still be much more coherent and aware than Person A.


BAC can depend on gender, body weight and build, the number of drinks consumed, the types of drinks consumed, whether or not a person has eaten, any medications they might be taking, and more.


Generally, women feel the effects of alcohol much faster than men, and smaller body types will feel the effects faster than bigger body types will. If a person has food in their stomach, that will help soak up some alcohol. Conversely, if they are drinking on an empty stomach, they will get drunk faster.

When it comes to determining what 1 serving of alcohol means, it depends on the type of drink you want to look at. As a general rule, 1 serving of alcohol equals 1 oz. of 100 proof liquor, a 12 oz. beer, or 4 oz. wine. A 12 oz. beer is much more liquid volume than a glass of wine, but the servings are considered equal. 3 glasses of 4 oz. wine each, 12 oz. total, is theoretically 3 times the serving of a 12 oz. beer.

When you are looking at beer, now here is where things get a little tricky because after all this huge explosion over the micro brews you have things that have far larger alcohol contents. You have beers that you can imagine the difference between for instance,a light beer and a stout, for example. There is a big difference in caloric intake. There is a big difference in alcohol levels. So really it changes. When you are looking at a light beer you are looking at something that is roughly about 16 ounces, it is going to be too much. Most of your bottles are actually going to be – this is a 16 ounce bottle – most of the bottles of beer are going to be about 12 ounces for that light. When you are looking at at the Guinnes or something in the stout range, it is actually a 10 ounce size. That is your serving size. So when you go to the pub and you get a 16 ounce pint, you are getting way more, that is this whole thing fill, way more than a single serving, so keep that in mind.

A shot changes. It depends on the bar you are at; depends on the shot glass you have it home. Measure it out so that you can actually see what an ounce is. It is pretty small. So most of the time when you go to a bar and getting a drink you are actually getting a double shot. You are usually getting about 2 ounces worth. That is something to really keep in mind. Different people are affected by alcohol at different levels. So you are going to need to look at how it affects your biochemistry. Know that the grain alcohol, the one that is straight alcohol, is going to go straight to your blood stream a lot faster than if you are having that 10 ounces of Guiness.

We mentioned that the legal BAC limit in California is 0.08%, yet many people are drunk well before this limit. If a cop pulls a person over and they blow a 0.05%, they can and will still arrest them for a DUI, especially if they do not appear coherent and alert enough to drive safely. There is never a good reason to drink and drive. The risks are far too dangerous for this person and others on the road. At the same time, even if a person is not driving and is relying on a designated sober driver, they should still know when to stop drinking.


Alcohol lowers inhibitions and the ability to make safe and sound decisions. People put themselves at risk and vulnerability when they drink. It is just a precaution to know how much is too much.