Alcohol

For many of us, drinking with friends and family is one of life's pleasures. In fact drinking small amounts of alcohol regularly gives protection against coronary heart disease. But for a lot of people, their drinking can lead to longer-term health problems.

Drinks

If you regularly drink more than the recommended daily amount there is an increasing risk to your health, including cancers (mouth, throat, breast, stomach), coronary heart disease (heart attacks and angina) and strokes

Recommended Daily Amounts for Over 18s:

Men = no more than 3-4 units a day with two alcohol free days a week

Women = no more than 2-3 units a day with two alcohol free days a week

How do you know if you're drinking too much?

Use the table below to see if you are at risk from drinking alcohol

Risk

Men

Women

Common Effects

Low Risk

21 units or fewer per week or up to 4 units per day with 2 alcohol free days

14 units or fewer per week or up to 3 units per day with 2 alcohol free days

  • Increased relaxation
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Sociability

Increased Risk

22 - 49 units per week or regular drinking of more than four units per day

15 - 35 units per week or regular drinking of more than three units per day

  • Less energy
  • Depression / stress
  • Insomnia
  • Impotence
  • Risk of injury
  • High blood pressure

High Risk

50 or more units per week

36 or more units per week

  • All of the above and….
  • Memory loss
  • Risk of liver disease
  • Risk of cancer
  • Risk of alcohol dependence

Tips and guidelines for safer drinking:

  • Eat before you drink and while you drink, food helps absorb alcohol and so limits how quickly what you drink will get into your bloodstream
  • Remember guideline daily amounts are for adults, there's no known safe level of drinking for under 18s
  • Use soft drink 'spacers', alternating between alcoholic and soft drinks will stop you becoming dehydrated and lessen the chance of having a hangover in the morning
  • Don't drink everyday and if you overdo it, give your body a day or two to recover
  • Keep a drink diary over a couple of weeks, detailing what you drank and where. It will help you get a better picture of what's going on and to decide what you should do to keep your drinking at a sensible level
  • Drinks poured at home are often more generous than pub measures. Try to measure out your drinks properly when at home so you can keep track of the number of units you are drinking
  • Remember if you drink heavily in the evening you may still be over the drink-drive limit the next morning

Useful information sources on alcohol:

NHS Drinking

Drink Aware

Talk to Frank

Alcohol Concern

Alcohol Learning Centre

Aquarius

Alcoholics Anonymous