Health Department

Rethink Drinks


Do you enjoy a drink now and then? Many of us do, often when socializing with friends and family. Drinking can be beneficial or harmful, depending on your age and health status, and, of course, how much you drink.

For anyone who drinks, the following links offer valuable, research-based information. What do you think about taking a look at your drinking habits and how they may affect your health?  Rethinking Drinking can help you get started.

Tools & Calculators

  • Use the Interactive Worksheets to check your drinking pattern, weigh your reasons for or against making a change, track your drinking patterns, or to get tips to stay in control.
  • Do you know what a “standard drink” is or how many drinks are in common containers? What Counts will show how much alcohol can be found in common drinks.
  • How strong is your mixed drink or cocktail? Using the Cocktail Content Calculator, you can see the results for some popular recipes with the information taken from bartenders’ guides.
  • Do you know how many standard drinks are in that cup or glass you’re holding?  Knowing the number of drinks per container can help you make informed decisions about your drinking. The Drink Size Calculator will show you how many standard drinks your container holds.
  • Alcoholic beverages supply calories but few nutrients and may contribute to unwanted weight gain. Provide your average number of drinks of choice per week, and the Alcohol Calorie Calculator will show the number of calories you consume from alcohol per week.
  • How much money do you spend on alcohol each week? Use the Alcohol Spending Calculator to figure out an average of what you spend on alcohol per week, month, and year.
  • If you have taken a drink and intend to drive, check the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Calculator to see if you are legally intoxicated. (These results are rough estimates for an average person only and are for informational purposes only.) 

Thinking About a Change?

The decision to change your drinking is up to you. It is normal to have mixed feelings and it can help to weigh the pros and cons. Use the interactive change worksheet to see if you are ready to take the next step and for strategies for cutting down.

Take the Next Step

Like any illness, ongoing or excessive use of alcohol and other drugs can make things hard for your health, relationships, family, or job.  The good news is that these problems can be treated and recovery is possible. The Network180 Guide to Services lists agencies that may be able to help.

Information for the Community

Why Rethink Drinks?

Adult heavy drinking is a major public health concern. According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in 2017, 15.0% of those 18 years and older who were surveyed admitted to binge drinking in the past month. Binge drinking is higher among men (18.7%) and in adults between the ages of 25-34 (27.3%). The assessment also found 21.0% of adults in a higher income tax bracket ($75,000 or more/year) admitted to binge drinking in the past 30 days. Many people do not realize the long-term harm they are doing to their bodies when they engage in heavy drinking.

Short term, we know the impacts of heavy drinking can include drinking and driving, aggression, and risky sexual behavior. But long-term, it can lead to obesity, higher risk of certain cancers, and organ damage. Knowing these risks early and taking a proactive approach can help you stay healthy.

Who We Are

The Kent County Health Department is working in partnership with the Lakeshore Regional Entity (LRE) to reduce adult heavy drinking. This campaign is designed to inform adults about the harmful effects and risky behaviors associated with excessive alcohol consumption.

What We Have Been Doing

Over the past several years, the campaign has included billboards, advertisements, QR coding and social media messages to bring people to the website. Social media messages, education, environmental strategies, and community mobilization have included:

  • A multi-year affiliation with the West Michigan Whitecaps which has included a season long sponsorship of the Designated Driver program (promoted through a pregame video board ad, PA announcements, and bathroom signs), a one night game sponsorship opportunity (name on US 131 highway sign, PA announcements, and promotional item give away to fans in attendance), an outfield fence sign, and concourse pole signs.
  • Johnny Ads in the restrooms of various local restaurants, bars and venues
  • Outdoor billboards in various locations throughout Kent County
  • Ads on The Rapid buses
  • Posts on Facebook & Twitter
  • Key chains with QR coding
  • 50,000 drink coasters in numerous restaurants and bars

  • A September 10, 2013 interview on eight West (WOOD TV 8)
  • Past affiliation with the Grand Rapids Griffins, which included a PSA shown during home games, an advertisement in the “GRIFFITI” magazine handed out during all home games, and sponsorship of the Designated Driver program (the designated driver received a wristband and a coupon good for a free Pepsi)

What's the Hurry?

Out With the Guys?

Girls' Night Out?

This partnership between the Kent County Health Department and Lakeshore Regional Entity is supported by a grant from the Behavioral Health and Departmental Disabilities Administration/Bureau of Substances Abuse & Addiction Services.

Community Standards for Alcohol Use

Although many people may use alcohol appropriately, alcohol misuse and abuse creates significant risks to the health and safety of all our community members, particularly our children. Alcohol misuse is increasingly recognized as a major factor in violence, crime, sexual promiscuity, teen pregnancy, personal injury, and premature death. Alcohol misuse results in great harm to many individuals and families, businesses, neighborhoods, and the greater community.

Alcohol related problems cost Americans billions of dollars per year with a substantial portion expended for health care (and multiple billions beyond health care). The citizens of our community have a right to live, work, and play in environments that are free from the risks, problems, and costs resulting from the misuse of alcohol. It is important for leaders and members of the community to step forward to address the problems that alcohol misuse creates in our community. We need to work together to improve the quality of life for all members of our community and particularly our children.

The Community Standards for Alcohol Use are based on these key beliefs:

  • Adults have a legal right to make a personal choice to use alcohol or to abstain from it; if they choose to use alcohol, they must do so responsibly.
  • Heavy drinking and/or intoxication are not appropriate for anyone.
    • Heavy drinking is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as consuming alcohol in excess of one drink per day on average for women and greater than two drinks per day on average for men. They define binge drinking as drinking more than four drinks for men and three drinks for women during a single occasion. Binge drinking is sometimes described as “drinking to get drunk”.
  • Alcohol use by minors is illegal and must be actively discouraged.
  • People in high-risk categories should not consume alcohol. High-risk categories include:
    • Women trying to conceive, who are pregnant, or breast-feeding
    • Anyone driving any vehicle, including car, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile, allterrain vehicle, or bicycle
    • People who must be alert while working with machinery or dangerous equipment, are engaging in challenging physical activities, or when responsible for the public order or the safety of others.
    • Anyone using certain prescription or over-the-counter medications
    • Those who cannot limit their drinking to moderate levels, including recovering alcoholics, and people who have family members with alcohol problems
    • People with specific health problems for which their physician has advised them they should not use alcohol (e.g., peptic ulcers, poorly controlled diabetes, etc.)
    • People who have difficultly, when drinking, keeping their anger under control
    • People with mental health conditions that become worse with the use of alcohol
    • Together, we can build a safer environment for all members of our community including our children, youth, employees, college students, and families.
  • Complete List of Community Standards for Alcohol Use