Knowing Your Standard Drinks and BAC

Responsible Service of AlcoholWhen working as an RSA QLD staff member, it is important to know your standard drinks and how they affect Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). A standard drink is typically defined as a drink that contains approximately 10 grams of pure alcohol. A standard drink and a standard-sized glass are not the same thing.

Wine and sparkling wine are often served in a 200ml glass. This would contain 20 grams of pure alcohol (i.e. the equivalent of two standard drinks). Another example would be if you get a drink that is full to the white line on a glass – this in fact could be 150ml or 1.5 standard drinks – yet everyone thinks they are drinking just one.

Ready-to-Drink spirits are increasingly popular in the Australian liquor market. Presented in 375ml bottles and cans most Ready-to-Drink’s will contain 1.2 to 1.7 standard drinks, and some that have approximately 7% alcohol as much as 2.4 standard drinks.

Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream as a person drinks. It is absorbed through the stomach walls and the intestines. The bloodstream carries the alcohol to the brain. One of the first effects of alcohol is the loss of judgement and inhibitions.

Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. It is measured by the number of grams of alcohol in 100mls of blood. For example, a BAC of .05 means there is .05 grams of alcohol in 100ml of blood. As more alcohol is consumed, BAC rises. Moments after it is consumed, alcohol can be found in all tissues, organs and secretions of the body. Alcohol in carbonated drinks, such as sparkling wines and mixed drinks, usually enters the bloodstream more quickly. The effects of alcohol in these carbonated drinks are felt more quickly.

As BAC increases there may be a temporary loss of co-ordination and a temporary loss of memory. Heavy drinking may affect a person’s sense of balance or ability to judge distances. At some stage, the loss of control becomes so great that we say the person is drunk.

Being an RSA QLD staff requires an understanding of standard drinks and BAC.