# Alcohol Consumption Question

Recently I went for a physical.

Being a new patient, I filled out a questionaire.

One of the questions was about how many alcoholic drinks I consumed daily.

I answered “three”. I drink three beers a day, typically.

When I spoke with the doctor he said “You know that you’re a heavy drinker, don’t you?” It seems that the standard for heavy alcohol consumption is set at 15 drinks per week for men. Also, it is considered that 1 beer= 4 ounces of wine= 1 shot of hard liquor.

Now, I drink the lightest beer there is (Michelob Ultra). I can drink 3 one after another and notice hardly any effect. I have drank wine before, and I know that if I drank 12 ounces in the same amount of time that I drink the 3 beers, I would be passed out on the floor.

So, I really don’t get it. Obviously I’m a little upset at being termed a heavy drinker because I drink 3 bottles of what amounts to straw- colored water a day.

So, I suppose my question is: “How realistic are the current standards of alcohol consumption?” (Should this be in IMHO?)

They are very realistic in terms of the amount of alcohol they contain which is equal for all of them given the quantities cited. Again, the amount of alcohol in 1 beer = amount in 4 ounces of wine = amount in 1 shot of hard liquor (each with around 12 grams of alcohol).

I suspect the problem lies with the fact that most people pour themselves more than 4 ounces of wine (in a “glass”) and serve themselves hard liquor such that one of their “shots” is much closer to a “double” by more objective standards.

Michelob Ultra hardly counts as beer. Should have told the Doc that you were a non-drinker and explained to him that you liked to consume ready made pee. Then he could have concentrated on your real problem, bladder abuse.

A friend of mine became highly upset when, after filling out one of those forms, her doctor told her she was an alcoholic. I would call the criteria they use “benchmarks,” although I do believe there are folks who drink less alcohol than her that I would consider alcoholics before I considered her one. That’s because we attach the labels “heavy drinker” and “alcoholic” to behaviors rather than to amount consumed.

It is difficult to have that label put on your record because anyone who sees it, professional or not, is likely to make very subjective assumptions. I would rather the doctor record my actual consumption (3-12oz beers a day) than apply the label “heavy drinker” and I would request (s)he do so.

Sure it does. It’s 4.2% ABV which isn’t that far off from your average American non-light beer. That’s actually slightly more than is in a Guinness.

Zambini57, whether or not you notice any effect after drinking three beers doesn’t have much bearing on whether or not this is healthy for you. I’m betting your doc is correct, and three beers every day does sound like you’ve reached the heavy drinker echelon. Sure, we all know of someone who drinks really heavy every day, but that’s not exactly who you should be comparing yourself to.

Alcoholic checking in-

Not to sound flip, but 3 beers a day sounds like child’s play to me…

But seriously, alcoholism can better be judged by your response to the alcohol, rather than the amount consumed. For example, are you able to stop drinking once you start, or must you continue until blackout/pass out/beer gone? Once you start drinking, can you accurately predict your behavior, or could anything happen?

Those kind of questions are much more indicative of alcoholism, in my opinion. And I agree that the word “alcoholic” is bandied about much too frequently.

Three drinks per day is “heavy,” huh? Wow.
Edited to add- hee hee hee, the Google ads are for home security systems. Are drunks dangerous and likely to grab your stuff?

It’s not what the doctor thinks that matters, it’s a self-led critical assessment of alcohol’s role in your own life that really counts. Your doctor, friends, and family can help with this, but it’s your decision to analyze how alcohol is affecting you. Three beers a day may be perfectly healthy for you, or it may be very dangerous/unhealthy. The answer is yours.

Now, as to whether 3 beers/day constitutes the current American label of “heavy drinking,” that’s a different question altogether. I myself have of late been seeking counsel on my use/abuse of alcohol, and the consensus for heavy drinking I have seen is “5 or above.” 1-2 being mild, and 2-4 being moderate drinking. For me personally, that standard holds true.

Again I cant stress enough, that alcohol affects everyone different, and what’s totally fine for some people is extremely dangerous for others. Please dont limit your thinking about alcohol to something your doctor says. Instead, use your doctor’s warning as a starting point in an assessment of your drinking behavior. From your OP, I would WAG that you’re fine, but that is your call to make and not anyone else.

With the unfortunate caveat that if you’re an alcoholic in denial, your call may not be reliable – it’s only as honest as you can let it be. But I agree wholeheartedly that no one can make that call based solely on numbers (ounces per day, count per week, gender and weight, etc.) There’s tons (maybe even literally, if you go offline) of material dedicated to helping you figure this out. General practice doctors are not always good at helping. Some are, some aren’t.

Thank you all for your responses, so far.

But, I still don’t understand how, if 1 beer= 4 oz. wine= 1 shot of hard liquor the effect is so different.

If I drink the 3 Michelob Ultras in half an hour, there is almost no effect of intoxication. Yet if I drink 3 4 oz. glasses of wine in the same amount of time, as I have done on very rare occasions, I get very intoxicated.

IANAD, but I’m guessing it has something to do with various enzymes in the body that help break down differing types of alcohol. For me, sake gets me very drunk very fast, even though I can down shots and be coherent much longer than most people.

If you are drinking them that quickly give it some thought. Your body can burn up a beer during activity in an hour or so, but 3 in half an hour is something else.

Ethanol is ethanol. Supposing the wine he drinks is about 12% ABV, he should feel about the same effects after drinking 4 ounces as he would from drinking 12 ounces of Michelob Ultra. I suppose the answer is that many wines are more than 12% ABV and/or he may be consuming more ounces of wine than he thinks or drinking it faster.

True, but remember that ethanol must be absorbed to affect you, and that other factors (e.g., nutrients, water) affect absorbtion rates. I’ve never had (or analyzed) Michelob Ultra, but if it contains things that distract your digestive system from the task of absorbing alcohol, its alcohol might take longer to hit your system.

True, but remember that ethanol must be absorbed to affect you, and that other factors (e.g., nutrients, water) affect absorbtion rates. I’ve never had (or analyzed) Michelob Ultra, but if it contains things that distract your digestive system from the task of absorbing alcohol, its alcohol might take longer to hit your system.

On the other hand, you could just be so used to a routine including Michelob Ultra that you don’t notice its effects, whereas wine, being weird, stands out in your experience.

That’s true, for instance, the more carbonated a beverage is the faster the alcohol is absorbed, but I can’t see equal amounts of alcohol from beer or wine making enough of a difference to go from not feeling any effects of intoxication to feeling very intoxicated.

I don’t think the weirdness is what’s getting to him.

I’m sure it’s not just the ethanol in an alcoholic beverage which get to you. The buzz from beer feels different vs wine vs vodka vs tequila vs mixed drinks, etc.

Ethanol is ethanol.

By the very website you linked:

“congeners, found primarily in darker alcoholic drinks, may affect blood vessels directly, producing migraine-like effects (spasm and/or dilation of blood vessels) and intensifying a hangover. As a rule, the lighter the colour, the fewer congeners it is likely to contain (ie, vodka is better than whisky).”

Ethanol my be ethanol, but other factors (including psychological ones) affect the feeling of the buzz.

I have to ask… if you get no effect from three beers, and you consider them to be little more than colored water… why are you drinking beer? I mean, why pay beer price for water effect? Makes no sense at all to me; seems like a really expensive way to quench your thirst.

I’ve always wondered that about people who drink those pussy light beers. Me, I drink Steel Reserve (I have no taste buds)