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Home > Liquor > Resources  > Standard Drinks and Australian Alcohol Guidelines

Standard Drinks and Australian Alcohol Guidelines

The Australian Alcohol Guidelines are designed to give people an indication of the limits of alcohol consumption that are associated with an increasing risk to health and social well-being. The goal is to provide people with some knowledge to minimise the risk of alcohol-related harms occurring. The Guidelines are based on the Australian Standard Drink measure.

Frequently asked questions


What is a standard drink?

A standard drink is any drink containing 10 grams of alcohol. One standard drink always contains the same amount of alcohol regardless of container size or alcohol type (ie, beer, wine, or spirit).

What is the standard drink used for?

Counting standard drinks is a much more reliable measure of how much alcohol is consumed compared to counting glasses, bottles, or cans (which can contain varying amounts of alcohol).

The consumption limits in the Australian Alcohol Guidelines Links to external site are based on the standard drink concept. A review of these Guidelines is currently underway for consideration by the Federal Government.

How may standard drinks in....?

Food labelling laws require labels on alcoholic beverage containers to include reference to the number of standard drinks.

In 2006, industry-developed standard drink logos were endorsed by all governments across Australia. The new logos — a joint initiative of the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, the Australasian Associated Brewers Inc. and the Winemakers Federation of Australia — are voluntary and aim to make it easier for consumers to identify the number of standard drinks. The logos are now appearing on a wide range of beer, wine and spirit products.

Beer Spirit Wine
Standard beer Standard beer Standard beer
These are the standard drink logos that appear on bottles and cans of beer, spirits and wine. The number on the logo identifies the number of standard drinks contained in the bottle or can — this will vary depending on the size of the container and the type of alcohol involved.



Why count?

The main reason people count their drinks, using standard drinks, is to ensure that the low risk levels set out in the Australian Alcohol Guidelines are not exceeded. The low risk levels define the number of standard drinks that can be drunk before the threat to a person's health and social well-being moves up into the ’risky’ or ’high risk’ category.

Low risk levels

For men — No more than 4 standard drinks a day on average and no more than 6 standard drinks on any one day.* One or two alcohol-free days per week.

For women— No more than 2 standard drinks a day on average and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day.* One or two alcohol-free days per week.

* These drinks should be spread over several hours — eg men should have no more than 2 standard drinks in the first hour and 1 per hour after that; women should have no more than 1 standard drink per hour.

The Guidelines also caution against drinking alcohol before activities that involve risk or a degree of skill — such as driving.

Posters and other resources Links to external site are available to help licensed venues promote patron and staff awareness about the Guidelines and standard drinks.

Visit the NSW Government's Alcohol Info website for more information Links to external site .