What does it mean to drink alcohol ‘in moderation? There are so many definitions, standards and doctor-words out there I don’t think anyone really has any idea how much alcohol we should drink.

'How much shall I drink?'

When we started this project, I endevoured to start building a collection of ‘definitions’ for what it meant to not drink in moderation (aka binge drink). Here is a select handful of hundreds.

  • Sweden – consuming half a bottle of spirits or two or more bottles of wine in one sitting
  • Italy – consuming 8 drinks in one sitting was considered drinking in moderation
  • UK – consuming more than 11 drinks in one sitting is a tad excessive
  • Australia – more than seven standard drinks per week, or more than five drinks on any one occasion. Check Drinkwise’s website for more of the nitty gritty.

It seems that every man and his dog as a different concept of ‘in moderation’ and the amount of alcohol in that concept changes with the season.

25 years ago if you threw up after drinking on a weekend, you were no longer drinking in moderation and people would surely be concerned. Today, we only get concerned when you do damage to others. So really drinking ‘in moderation’ really is an evolving concept that suits the individual… and the industry.

I think we need to move from a stock-standard 1 amount/1 solution fits all (like ‘standard drinks’) model to something that accomodates your ‘in moderation’ and accomodates my ‘in moderation’. We need to change the the question from ‘how much’ we drink to ‘why’ we drink and I think we’ll really get to bottom of the drivers behind our binge drinking culture.

Most people believe that they are drinking in moderation. They are drinking in moderation aligned with their friends, family and nation. Not in the moderation aligned with researchers and laws. Until we understand this, until we understand that most people would rather be unhealthy and have friends than healthy and lose them, there will be no change.


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