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Make Informed Choice on Drinking
      Why should I pay attention to alcohol drinking?
      What are the effects of alcohol?
      If you drink, what is the upper limit for alcohol intake in a day?
      Should I reduce my drinking?
      How can I drink sensibly, or help myself to cut down?
      What is the legislative drinking level for driving?
      When should I not drink at all?

Why should I pay attention to alcohol drinking?

Drinking is part of our culture. Most men enjoy a drink or two, especially during social gatherings. However, many men drink too much alcohol or do this too often, and end up damaging their health.


What are the effects of alcohol?

The effects of alcohol depend on many factors, such as how much you drink, how quickly the alcohol is consumed, and whether the alcohol is consumed with other drugs. It also depends on whether you are used to drinking, your mood, weight, gender and general health status.

Please note that drinking alcohol cannot effectively reduce stress. Moreover, it is easy to drink too much. Being drunk can lead to discomfort and loss of self-control and can increase the chance of accidents. Long-term excessive use of alcohol can lead to alcohol dependence. This may not only adversely affect your physical and mental health, but also influence your work performance and ruin your social life.


Men are more likely than women to drink alcohol excessively. According to the Behavioural Risk Factor Survey 2009 of the Department of Health, 10.3% male surveyed drink 4 days or more each week, while only 1.2% female surveyed do so.

Health Alert

Excessive drinking may lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, hypertension and stroke.

Long-term effects of alcohol

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If you drink, what is the upper limit for alcohol intake in a day?

A "standard drink" (refer to table) contains 10g of pure alcohol.

"Low risk" is not "no risk". There exists no threshold of which alcohol can be consumed safely. Alcohol-related harm expresses as a continuum, that is, the more you drink, the higher the chance you are to get alcohol-related harm. So if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, limit your drink to minimise alcohol-related harm.

Table: Number of standard drinks in your drink
Western Drink No. of standard drinks
1 pub measure of approx. 30ml of spirits (whisky, gin, vodka) 1
1 glass of approx. 60ml of fortified wine (sherry, martini, port) 1
1 average sized glass of approx. 120ml of table wine 1.5
1 can of approx. 350ml of beer 1.5
1 pint of approx. 500ml of beer 2
Chinese Drink No. of standard drinks
1 glass of approx. 250ml of shuang zheng jiu 6
1 glass of approx. 250ml of san zheng jiu 8
1 glass of approx. 250ml of gao liang jiu 12
These units are approximations only and may vary depending on the brand chosen and the concentration of alcohol in the beverage.

Immediate effects of alcohol

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Should I reduce my drinking?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  Yes No
  • Are you unable to control the frequency and amount of alcohol you drink?
  • Do you think of drinking first thing in the morning?
  • Do you ever feel as if you can't get through the day without a drink?
  • Do you drink when you are at work?
  • At mealtime, no matter it is breakfast, lunch or dinner, do you drink rather than eat other food?
  • Do you get drunk at least once a week?
  • Do you have intermittent memory loss, especially after getting drunk?
  • Do you have involuntary hand tremor when you abstain from alcohol?
  • Is drinking affecting your relationships with family members, friends and colleagues?
  • Do you feel guilty about your drinking behaviour?

If you answer "YES" to any of the above questions, you need to reassess your drinking habit, and be aware of its role in your life.

If you answer "YES" to two or more questions, try and stop drinking for three days. If you cannot do this, you probably need some professional help.

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How can I drink sensibly, or help myself to cut down?

To avoid drinking too much, you must pay attention to the followings:

Choice of alcohol:

  • Know your drink and its alcohol level. Many regular beers are about 5% alcohol by volume (ABV), red/white wine 10-15% ABV, and whisky 30-40% ABV.
  • Choose lower strength drinks, or mix wine with water or ice.
  • Fizzy drinks (like champagne) are absorbed more quickly than flatter beverage.

Drinking behaviour:

  • Take meals while drinking to slow down alcohol absorption. Do not drink with an empty stomach.
  • Always make your first drink during meal a non-alcoholic one.
  • Sip your drink slowly and do not gulp.
  • Space your drinks with a non-alcoholic drink in between.
  • Don't get into rounds.
  • Set yourself a maximum number, say two alcoholic beverages, when out for the evening and stick to it.

Drinking habit:

  • Keep a drinking diary and write down each day how much you have drunk(in units), and get to know what situations tempt you the most and how you can avoid them.

If you concern about your drinking, have difficulty in sticking with these tips, or feel that your drinking is getting out of hand, do not try to tackle it on your own. Seek professional advice and get help from a support group.

Do You Know

The label on a bottle or a can of alcoholic beverage usually states the drink volume and alcohol content. If you are uncertain about how to calculate the number of "standard drinks" in a drink from the drink volume and alcohol content, you may click here.

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What is the legislative drinking level for driving?

It is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level (BAL) of more than 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood.

Besides being careful about your own drinking, it is good to care about other people's drinking. Do not let your friends drive if you think they should not drive. Call a taxi for them!


When should I not drink at all?

There are some times when it is best not to drink at all. These include:

  • before or when driving
  • before or when operating machinery and equipment
  • before or when handling chemicals, sharps or dangerous goods.
  • before or when using ladders, or working at heights
  • before or when swimming or taking part in active sport
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  Sensible Drinking
Related Articles
  No Binge Drinking for the Ladies Too
    Say No to Binge Drinking
    Tips for Alcohol Consumption during Festive Seasons
Men's Health Tests
  Sensible Drinking
Who Else Can Help?

Alcoholics anonymous
Address: G/F, 12 Borrett Road, Hong Kong
Phone: 2522 5665 (6:00 pm-7:00 pm)


Tuen Mun Alcoholic Problems Clinic
Phone: 2456 8260


"STAY SOBER, STAY FREE" Alcohol Addiction Treatment Project
Phone: 2884 9876

2011 | Important notices | Privacy policy Last revision date: 2012-07-17