What is a Standard Drink?

One component of the ability to effectively address substance use and abuse is the ability to communicate clearly with a patient about his or her behavior.

In many cases, a patient may not know what constitutes a “drink” of alcohol. For example, a “mixed drink” may contain 3 or 4 standard drinks of alcohol.

It is important to quantify substance use if possible. Similar to asking how many cigarettes a patient smokes, you should ascertain how many drinks a patient has per day and per week. You need to start by having a common definition of what a “drink” is. A handout, provided here with permission of Academic Edge, Inc., may help your patients better understand drink sizes.

Some other common alcohol drink sizes are listed in the graphic below.

Standard Drink table