Alcohol is a drug. When people drink small amounts of alcohol, they may feel relaxed and calm. They may talk more and be less reserved. When people drink larger amounts, the alcohol slows down parts of the brain, and affects their thinking, actions, reflexes, and the ability to make clear decisions. Drinking a lot of alcohol can also lead to dizziness, loss of coordination, decreased motor skills, getting intoxicated and alcohol poisoning.

Some people do things they would not normally do or act differently when they drink alcohol. It is important to pay attention to your body and how you feel if and when you choose to drink.

People may choose to drink for many reasons.

  • To be social or to fit in
  • To have fun
  • To avoid bad feelings or bad memories
  • To cope with traumatic experiences, stress, anger, violence, or abuse
  • To cope with boredom

Some people turn to alcohol when they don’t know what to do or what will help them. Using alcohol to avoid or cope with uncomfortable feelings does not solve problems or make the situation better, and can make it hard to function in daily life. Asking someone you trust for help is a positive step in making healthy choices.

A standard drink

Beer, wine, and spirits are different types of alcohol, and each one has a different amount of alcohol.  This makes some types of alcohol stronger than others, so the size of a standard drink is different for each.

Each of these standard drinks has the same amount of alcohol.

  • 12 oz. (1.5 cups) of beer with 5% alcohol
  • 5 oz. (0.6 cups) of wine with 10 to 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 oz. (0.2 cups) of liquor with 40% alcohol

It is important to understand what one standard drink is.  If you decide to drink, it will help you to keep track of how much alcohol you drink so that you know when you have reached your limit.