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TABLE 16-1   Amount of Ethanol in a Drinka

 

Ethanol
Content (%)

Unit of Measure

Ethanol in a Drink
[oz and (ml))

Beverage Type

     

Whiskey (80 proof)

40

1-oz shot (30 ml)

0.40 (11.83)

Table wine

12.1b

3.5-oz glass (104 ml)

0.42 (12.42)

U.S. beer

3.5c

12-oz bottle (355 ml)

0.42 (12.42)

a From Baum-Baicker (1985a).

b Most table wines contain 11 to 13% ethanol. Fortified wines, such as sherry and port, contain approximately 20% ethanol.

c Most U.S. brands contain 3.2 to 4.0% ethanol.

pendence. Although alcohol abusers and alcoholics were defined as separate groups, they were not considered to be mutually exclusive. Many alcoholics also reported consequences of alcohol abuse, and some counted as alcohol abusers may have had alcohol dependence.

Alcohol consumption peaks in the 20- to 40-year age group; alcohol abuse is most frequent in youth and middle age. A national study by Schoenborn and Cohen (1986) showed that 70% of people between the ages of 20 and 34 consumed alcohol.

In a 1985 survey, 66% of the high school seniors interviewed reported that they had consumed alcohol in the past month and 5% described themselves as daily drinkers. Thirty-seven percent of them had had five or more drinks on at least one occasion during the 2 weeks before the survey (NIAAA, 1987).

Alcohol use decreases in the elderly. Among those 65 to 74 years of age, 43% consumed alcohol. The percentage fell to 30% after age 75. The national survey of Cahalan et al. (1967) showed that 15% of those under 40 years and 5% of the elderly were heavy drinkers.

The lower percentage of alcoholics among the elderly is believed to be the consequence of attrition, as younger alcoholics die from accidents, cirrhosis, or other medical complications. It is also more difficult to define alcohol abuse among the elderly, because many of the criteria for such a classification (e.g., inability to hold a job, drunken driving, or other consequences of drinking) are less likely to apply to the elderly. Furthermore, family members may underreport excess alcohol use to protect the dignity of their elderly relatives.

Alcoholism affects nearly 18% of the institutionalized elderly (Schuckit and Miller, 1976), who are more likely to have medical problems. As many as 28% of the elderly residents of psychiatric institutions have had problems with alcohol use. Blose (1978) also found that 40 to 60% of nursing home patients had a history of alcohol-related problems. These figures are especially important in light of the increasingly high percentage of older people in the U.S. population.

Males are more likely to drink alcohol (Table 16-3) and to drink more heavily than females. Nevertheless, the proportion of women who drink has increased in the past 25 years. Through the 1970s, more women than men were abstainers and light drinkers, and fewer women were heavy drinkers. By 1981, the percentage of women who were

TABLE 16-2  Upper Limits of Allowable Daily Alcohol Consumptiona

Weight of Individual

0.8 g/kg bw per dayb

 

0.7 g/kg bwb

 

(kg)

(lb)

Ethanol
(g)

80-Proof Spirits (oz)

12% Table Wine (oz)

3.6%c
Beer (oz)

Ethanol
(g)

80-Proof Spirits (oz)

12% Table Wine (oz)

3.6%c Beer (oz)

50

110

40

4.3

14

38

35

3.7

13

33

60

132

48

5.1

17

46

42

4.5

15

40

70

154

56

6.0

20

53

49

5.2

18

47

80

176

64

6.9

23

61

56

6.0

20

53

90

198

72

7.7

26

69

63

6.7

23

60

100

220

80

8.6

29

76

70

7.5

25

67

a From Baum-Baicker (1985a). Conversions: 1 oz = 23.34 g or 29.574 ml.

b Turner et al. (1981) defined moderate intake as no more than 0.8 g/kg bw per day or an average of 0.7 g/kg bw over a 3-day period. See text.

c By weight, or 4.5% volume.



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