Alcohol: Is your consumption risky?


How do you consume alcohol with as little risk as possible? Why do some people tolerate more than others? When will alcohol consumption really be dangerous for the body and psyche? And when is the limit to addiction exceeded? Read what to look for when you like to drink alcohol.

Quick Overview

Maximum daily dose: Women maximum 12 grams of pure alcohol per day (e.g., 125 ml of wine), men a maximum of 24 grams (e.g., 250 ml of wine), at least two non-alcoholic days per week

How much alcohol do I tolerate? Tolerability is influenced by height, weight, gender, age, health, medication, genetic factors, habituation

Driving ability: Officially up to 0.5 per thousand, but may also be affected by concentration and reactivity already. Better only with zero per thousand at the wheel!

Alcoholics - from when? Risk for alcoholism increases with higher consumption, but does not depend on any specific amount. Addiction criteria are strong desire, loss of control, habituation effect, withdrawal symptoms, neglect of tasks, relationships and interests, continued drinking despite negative consequences

How much alcohol is OK?

Most adults in Germany drink alcohol. But how much alcohol is still acceptable, so as not to overload the body and psyche?

Experts have defined the so-called low-risk consumption (low-risk threshold dose) for alcohol. The World Health Organization WHO recommends:

  • Women should drink a maximum of 12 grams of pure alcohol per day.
  • For men, the recommended daily limit is 24 grams of pure alcohol.
  • At least two days a week you should abstain completely from alcohol.

However, low-risk means far from harmless: A completely risk-free consumption does not exist. Also the vasoprotective effect of small amounts, e.g. Red wine is outweighed by the harmful effect. The healthiest strategy is not to drink at all.

Eight rules for low-risk consumption

The German Agency for Addiction Issues has compiled the following eight rules on consumption:

  • Avoid alcohol consumption as much as possiblebut at least to the maximum recommended level
  • Avoid binge drinking - the risk of damage to health is particularly high here
  • Consider additional risk factors! Other risk factors such as lack of exercise, overweight and smoking burden the body in addition to alcohol
  • No alcohol when taking certain medications! For example, Paracetamol, isoniacide and methotrexate, as well as other critical medications
  • No alcohol for children and teenagers! Alcohol damages their brain development and is particularly risky for them in many ways.
  • No alcohol in pregnancy and lactation! Even the smallest amounts could harm the child!
  • No alcohol in the workplace, at the Drive and at the Condition of machines

Calculate amount of alcohol

However, in order to be able to adjust their alcohol consumption accordingly, one must know how many grams of pure alcohol are in the various alcoholic beverages.

You can calculate this value relatively easily. To do this, you only need to know the drinking volume in milliliters (ml) and the alcohol content in volume percent (vol.%). Added to this is the specific gravity of alcohol, which is 0.8 grams per cubic centimeter (g / cm3).

The formula for calculating the content of pure alcohol is:

Quantity in ml x (vol.% / 100) x 0.8 = grams of pure alcohol

An example: You drink a bottle of beer (330 ml) with 4.8% alcohol by volume. This means: They consume 330 x (4.8 / 100) x 0.8 = 12.7 grams of pure alcohol.

How much alcohol is in my drink?

A schnapps = a beer = a cocktail? Often the literature speaks of a standard glass or a drink. In Germany, it refers to alcoholic beverages containing 10 to 12 grams of pure alcohol.

Here is an overview of the alcohol content of various drinks:

  • Wine (about 10%, 1 glass of 125 ml): 10 g
  • Beer (about 4.8%, 1 bottle à 330 ml): 12.7 g
  • Non-alcoholic beer (max 0,5%, 1 glass à 200 ml): max. 0.8 g
  • Beer mix drink (2.5%, 1 bottle à 330 ml): 6.6 g
  • Sparkling wine (about 11%), 1 glass of 125 ml): 11 g
  • Fruit liqueur (about 30%, 1 glass of 20 ml): 4.8 g
  • Schnapps (about 40%, 1 glass of 40 ml): 12.8 g

How much alcohol do I tolerate?

How much alcohol is harmful? That's a question that can not be answered in a general way. How much alcohol a person tolerates depends on various factors.

height and weightThe bigger and heavier a person is, the more blood flows through his body. Accordingly, the consumed alcohol is distributed to a larger amount. The percentage of alcohol is then lower.

Body fat: Fat tissue is less perfused than, for example, the organs. Accordingly, less blood circulates proportionately in a high-fat body on which the alcohol can be distributed. The alcohol value is correspondingly higher and more harmful. For the same weight and higher fat content alcohol is therefore less well tolerated.

gender: Women tolerate less alcohol than men - even with the same weight and the same height. Reason is the higher natural body fat percentage of women. In addition, men have larger amounts of alcohol-degrading enzymes in the liver.

Genetic predisposition: Mainly crucial for alcohol tolerance is how fast the body breaks down the alcohol again. And that's genetically conditioned.

Age: With increasing age, the fluid content in the body decreases. The same amount of alcohol causes the concentration of alcohol in the blood of older people to increase more. In addition, their liver does not work as fast as at a young age. The alcohol is degraded so slower.

stomach contents: Even what you ate before drinking alcohol, plays a role. Rich and especially fatty foods delay the absorption of alcohol in the blood. The blood alcohol level rises slower - the alcohol is then better tolerated. That is why a drink on an empty stomach rises to your head especially quickly.

health status: Diseases such as liver disease, but also the use of certain medications can affect the metabolism of alcohol - for example, because the liver is slower or is burdened with the degradation of drug substances.

habituation: The body gets used to consuming more alcohol over a longer period of time. Who drinks, then feels less symptoms. In the case of heavy drinkers, a system is also active that breaks down alcohol independently of the liver: the Microsomal Ethanol Oxidizing System (MEOS).

Anyone who tolerates a lot is at particular risk!

Contracts and contracts are thus two different things. Just because someone is used to alcohol and feels less intoxication and hangovers does not mean his body is coping well with the cell poison. On the contrary, people who apparently tolerate a lot often drink a lot more. The risk is then even higher that their organs take permanent damage. And they are more likely to become addicted to alcohol.

What can I drink if I have to drive?

In Germany, a blood alcohol concentration of 0.5 per thousand applies as the limit for the ability to drive. This can be calculated with the so-called Widmark formula: It takes into account that in men, the proportion of body fluid in weight is about 68 percent, that of women about 55 percent.

Drunk alcohol in grams, divided by body weight times 0.55 (women) and 0.68 (men).

According to this, a man weighing 80 kg has a value of 0.44 after 0.5 liters of beer. In a 60 kg woman, it is already 0.72 per thousand. The body then breaks down every hour between 1 and 1.5 parts per thousand.

However, the formula is only approximate! For example, in people with a higher body fat percentage, the blood alcohol concentration is higher. Even a higher age, illness or medication can affect the blood alcohol.

In addition, the alcohol limit may be set too low, especially for inexperienced drinkers: In them, alcohol has a stronger effect and the reactivity decreases faster!

It's best to only get behind the wheel with zero per thousand!