group of friends having drinks at the bar

Get a better idea of how much you drink and your alcohol-related risk.

In Canada, one standard drink is:

  • One 341 ml (12 oz) bottle of 5 per cent alcohol beer, cider, or cooler.
  • One 43 ml (1.5 oz) shot of 40 per cent hard liquor (vodka, rum, whisky, gin etc.).
  • One 142 ml (5oz) glass of 12 per cent wine.

There is a continuum of risk that shows the risk for those who consume two standard drinks or less per week is low; for those who consume between three and six standard drinks per week the risk is moderate; those who consume seven or more standard drinks per week have increasingly high risk.

Every drink counts. Any reduction in your alcohol use has benefits. Drinking less is better.

How alcohol affects you depends on a number of things, including:

  • How much and how often you drink
  • How quickly you drink
  • Your sex and age
  • Your body size
  • Your mood
  • How much and what type of food you have eaten
  • Your past experiences with drinking
  • Medications you are taking
  • Your overall health

What is binge drinking?

As per the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction report on alcohol and health, binge drinking is usually defined as consuming five or more standard drinks in one setting for men, or four or more standard drinks in one setting for women.

Binge drinking is a very risky pattern of alcohol consumption. It is a well-established risk factor for death from any cause, including unintentional injuries, violence, heart disease and high blood pressure, inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, and for developing an alcohol use disorder (how we now describe “addiction” or “dependence” on alcohol).

Drinking many drinks in one sitting has a far greater impact on health and social harms than having that same number of drinks spread out over a number of days.