How much is too much

Standard Drink

How much is too much?

Unlike food, which can take hours to digest, alcohol is absorbed quickly by your body — long before most other nutrients. And it takes a lot more time for your body to get rid of the alcohol you've consumed.

Most alcohol is processed by your liver, and in general, it takes about one hour for your liver to process (metabolize) the alcohol in one drink.

One drink is defined as:

  • 12 ounces (355 milliliters) of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol)
  • 8 to 9 ounces (237 to 266 milliliters) of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
  • 5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine (about 12 percent alcohol)
  • 1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)


All drinks are not equivalent. A standard drink of wine is very different than a standard drink of beer or liquor. Mixed drinks may contain more than one serving of alcohol and take even longer to metabolize. Additionally, when you go out to a bar or restaurant, the drink you order is probably more than a standard drink. So keep in mind that your one or two drinks may actually be more.

If you are having any difficulties or concerns, consider contacting the professionals at The University Counseling Center. For immediate help or safety concerns, call 911 or GVPD at (616) 331-3255

Page last modified April 14, 2017