Enjoying a drink

Lots of adults enjoy drinking alcohol from time to time, but drinking too much can be very damaging to your short and long term health. It’s important to understand how alcohol can affect our health and wellbeing, and know how much it is safe to drink.

 There is no guaranteed safe level of drinking, but if you drink less than the recommended daily limits, the risks of damaging your health are low.

The effects of alcohol on your health will depend on how much you drink; the more you drink, the greater the health risks.

Sensible drinking guidelines

Official guidelines recommend that men shouldn’t regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women shouldn’t regularly drink more than two to three units a day because of the harm this may cause.

Guidelines also state that you should have at least two alcohol-free days each week, and recommend that after an episode of heavy drinking, it’s advisable to refrain from drinking for 48 hours to allow the tissues in your body to recover.

What is a unit?

One alcohol unit is measured as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. The number of units in a drink is determined by the size and strength of the drink.

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as one drink, one unit, and the alcoholic content in the same types of drinks can vary a lot.

More information on how to calculate units on the NHS Choices website. (Opens in a new window)

Am I drinking too much?

Most people will be fine if they drink within the sensible limits for regular drinking, but for some people, drinking gradually gets out of control.

Psychological and physical dependence on alcohol can creep up on you, especially if you drink excessively on a regular basis.

Tolerance can gradually increase, meaning that you need more alcohol to reach the same state. In other words, if you feel that you are getting better at holding your drink that could be a sign of a developing problem.

Use this simple and confidential online test, to understand if you are drinking at a sensible level (Opens in a new window)

Alcohol and the law

There are strict laws governing the sale and consumption of alcohol in the UK.

The government offers clear guidance on issues relating to drinking and young people, drink driving and drinking in public. More Information on UK guidance around Alcohol here (Opens in a new window)

National support for you

If you are concerned about your own drinking or worried about a family member or friend and need help or advice, you should contact the Drink line, on 0300 123 1110 (open weekdays 9am to 8pm and weekends 11am to 4pm)

Online Support for you

My living well has a range of online services which may be able to help My Living Well Online Support (opens a new window)

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