April 11, 2016

What is at-risk drinking?

just_drinks_for_web3By Rheagan Rizio, USC Student, Be Well USC Blogger

We’ve all heard the expression “at-risk drinking” before. But what does it really mean? What constitutes at-risk drinking?

Well, according to alcoholism.about.com, at-risk drinking is defined as 5+ drinks for men during any one drinking session (or 14+ drinks/week), and 4+ drinks for women during any one drinking session (or 7+ drinks/week). If your drinking falls under this bar, good news: you are considered to be in the “low risk” category, and have only about a 2% chance of developing alcoholism or abusing alcohol. However, if you frequently exceed this level, you have a significantly higher risk of developing alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse (generally around a 25% chance). Your frequency is important as well: if you binge drink only once a month, for example, your chances of having an alcohol-related disorder are around 20%, compared to a 35% chance that comes with binge drinking once a week. And if you drink heavily at least twice a week, your chances of developing a drinking disorder are 50%– 1 in 2 people!

Unsure what constitutes a standard drink? Here’s a quick review. According to The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one standard drink is equal to 15mL of pure ethanol, which is equal to: 12 oz of beer or a wine cooler; 5 oz of table wine (a bottle is close to 25 oz, so approximately 5 standard drinks); 8-9 oz of malt liquor (therefore a 12oz can is approximately 1.5 drinks); and 1.5 oz 80-proof spirits (please note a mixed drink may contain 1-3 standard drinks per serving).

The Engemann Student Counseling Services offers support for those students who believe they might be at risk or just want to talk about their drinking. Please call (213) 740-7711 for more information. Be sure to check back periodically for blog posts and updates as we continue to support and promote Alcohol Education and Awareness Month.