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Have You Been Over-Served?

It's party time for many people this weekend, and the beer (or margaritas or white wine) will be flowing. But when does drinking that's social and celebratory become an alcoholic "binge"? And could you "accidentally" binge if your host pours with a heavy hand?

An alcoholic binge, according to Dr. Mallika Marshall, is usually defined as four drinks for a woman and five drinks for a man over a two-hour timeframe. And a "drink" is considered to be five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of a liquor.

But if you're at a restaurant where the drinks come in foot-tall glasses, or the beer is poured from a never-ending pitcher, it's difficult to keep track of how much you've downed, something to consider if you're driving after having "just one" drink.

"It is so easy to over-do it," said Marshall, a frequent Early Show guest expert. "That's because we have a natural tendency to be 'generous' in social situations. Other things that can influence how much we pour are the size and shape of the glass and whether it's a mixed drink with lots of sugar and juice.

"So on a Friday or Saturday night when you think you're only having one or two drinks, you could actually be consuming four or five drinks' worth of alcohol."

What's the best way to make sure that you aren't over-served? According to Marshall, one good rough rule of thumb is to "count each glass of wine or mixed drink, and every beer over 12 ounces, as two servings. At home, when pouring drinks, use a standard shot glass. And pour a measured five ounces of wine into your own wine glasses to see what it looks like. That should help avoid over-pouring."