How much alcohol can you really drink before you get drunk?

Most of us have a rule of thumb we following when it comes to how much we drink. Some of them even work.

There’s the philosophical…

I drink until I’m full of regrets.

Literally my rule of thumb is “don’t die”.

The physical…

If I vomit I might have gone too far.

You know when you go pee and you start marvelling at the bathroom tiles and forgetting to lock the door? THAT’S when you know you should probably stop.

I stop drinking when my texts “hello, I love you” come out like “hary o love yuo”. Another warning sign is when I start messaging people I love them.

When I dive out of the conversation to smile into space for 20 minutes, I know it’s time to reconnect with my old mate, Uber.

Drinking while flying doesn’t make you more drunk, although mixing alcohol with medication to calm you down will certainly have an effect. A classic scene from the movie Bridesmaids. 

The practical…

I’ve adopted the second venue rule. When people start to move to a second venue, that’s when it’s time to bail for me.


If it’s on a school night or I don’t want to get drunk I generally have the 1,2 rule. First alcoholic drink = one water, second alcoholic drink = two waters. And never more than two drinks. 

Three’s the limit on a “school night” (unless it’s a special occasion. Like a Thursday).

And ones that seriously don’t work…

I often have singalongs with taxi drivers on the ride home. Hello, John Farnham. That’s when you know you’re have JUST enough.

If you drink as often as I do, you get to know your 7-Eleven man, which is fun. You can pick up some flavoured drinks and crisps for your soon-to-arrive hangover, and should anything bad ever happen, there’s CCTV footage of you. (That’s such a dark thought, I’m sorry).

Most of us use some strange rules of thumb when drinking. Image: The Heat, 20th Century Fox

One thing is pretty obvious. Australians love a drink, or several, and aside from the occasional evening in when we've run out of alcohol and can't be bothered to go out and buy more, we're tippling pretty often. We also rely on way too much misinformation when it comes to regulating how much we drink.

What we do know is that every person is affected by alcohol differently - and that women get drunk more quickly than men and take a longer time to recover.

Other variables that will impact on how drunk you will get include:

Age - the older you are the more you will be affected by alcohol.

Rate of Consumption - the quicker you drink, the quicker you get drunk.

Body Type - the less you weigh, the faster you will get drunk.

Emotional state - stress can cause your body to initially slow the effects of alcohol, but then when you relax you may experience a surge.

Medication - some medications should not be mixed with alcohol as they will cause adverse reactions. Check the warnings.

Carbonation - bubbles in drinks, such as champagne, increase the rate in which alcohol is absorbed into your stomach and therefore your alcohol blood levels.


Metabolism - our metabolism varies from person to person, therefore we process alcohol at different rates.

As well as the facts there are the myths around alcohol consumption. They are often hard to remember when you have had a few drinks.

So we'll break it down for you.

It's safe for women to have two standard drinks and drive.

How much you can drink before getting drunk depends a lot on the above. Even if you just look at the variable of weight you can see that one drink has a different impact on different people.  If you weigh 54 kilos you'll be drunk after two drinks. If you weigh more, around 63-81 kilos, you can probably get away with three. The only way to be sure about your alcohol limit is to do a blood test, so its probably best not to guess.

Body weight and metabolism can affect how fast you get drunk. Image: The Heat, 20th Century Fox

Drinking water prevents getting drunk.

For those who alternate between alcoholic drinks and water, drinking water won't prevent you from getting drunk. It will, however help with the hangover the next day.

Coffee sobers you up.

It doesn't. Mind. Blown. Coffee doesn't remove alcohol from your blood stream or allow you to use proper judgement. Only time will do that.

Eating a big meal protects against heavy drinking.

Food in your stomach will delay absorption into the bloodstream but won't reduce it or stop it.

One thing is for sure, you can't trick alcohol. It knows how to get you drunk - if you let it.

What you can do is understand your own body and your own alcohol limits. Then you can make informed choices as to how many drinks you want to have.

For more information about drinking responsibly visit the DrinkWise website.