It's recommended that both men and women should drink less than 14 units of alcohol in one week. This should be spread across a minimum of three days, with no more than 6 units at once.
How much is a unit?
- One 40% 25ml spirit is one unit.
- One glass of wine is two units.
- One pint of strong lager is three units.
You could be misusing alcohol if...
- You feel you should cut down
- Other people have mentioned your drinking
- You feel guilty about drinking
- You feel the need to drink to help with nerves or help your hangover
Potential harms from alcohol
There is no 'safe' level of drinking. But drinking less than 14 units a week is considered 'low risk'.
Drinking alcohol can lead to:
- Low energy and sleep deprivation
- Increased calorie and sugar intake, affecting weight and diabetes risk
- High blood pressure
- Mental health issues
- Acid reflux and stomach inflammation
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Erectile dysfunction and fertility issues
- Risking development of unborn foetus
Drinking more than typical over 10-20 years can lead to:
- Cancer (mouth, stomach, breast)
- Heart and liver disease
- Brain and nerve damage
Benefits of cutting down on alcohol
- Improved sleep and more energy
- Easier to maintain a healthy weight
- Improved mood
- Feel fitter
- Reverse fatty liver after six weeks
- Reduce the risk of cancer
However, if you're dependant on alcohol, you may suffer withdrawal symptoms when stopping. Make sure you only stop under supervised professional advice.
How to cut down/stop
- Make a plan
- Share with others
- Be positive
- Stay hydrated
- Drink smaller and less strong drinks
- Participate in Dry January or Sober October
Here are a few links that can help you cut down or stop drinking:
- Tips on cutting down - NHS
- Don't Bottle It Up
- Drink Aware
Treatment for alcohol misuse can be via talking therapy, support and medication. It is usually under specialist supervision.
- Counselling and using cognitive behavioural therapy
- Medication (under specialist supervision)
Librium (chlordiazepoxide): this is a benzodiazepine which is used under specialist supervision to help with alcohol withdrawal effects.
Acamprosate (Campral) / Disulfiram (Antabuse): these are medications used under specialist supervision to help prevent relapse by reducing the craving for alcohol or causing unpleasant side-effects from drinking.
There are many sources of publicly available information on managing your alcohol consumption. We recommend speaking to a GP for advice on how to start.