Alcohol consumption guidance
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) advise it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. The CMO also give guidance on drinking in pregnancy and single occasion drinking. Understanding how many units are in different drinks is made easy here (drinkaware website)
Low risk drinking guidelines
- If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it's best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risk of long-term illness and injury
- The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis
- If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days a week
How many units are in my drink?
Units are a simple way of expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. The number of units is based on the size of the drink, as well as its alcoholic strength.
Single occasion drinking
The CMO’s advice for men and women who want to keep their short-term health risks from single occasion drinking to a low level is to reduce them by:
- Limiting the total amount of alcohol you drink on any single occasion
- Drinking more slowly, drinking with food, and alternating with water
- Planning ahead to avoid problems; an example of planning ahead is making sure you can get home safely or that you have people you trust with you.
The sorts of things that are more likely to happen if you misjudge your overall alcohol intake on a single occasion can include:
- Accidents resulting in injury; causing death in some cases
- Misjudging risky situations
- Losing self-control (for example, engaging in unprotected sex)
Certain groups of people are more likely to be affected by alcohol and should be more careful of their drinking on any one occasion. These can include those at risk of falls, on medication that may interact with alcohol or those with ay pre-existing physical and mental health problems which could be exacerbated.
If you regularly drink on a weekly basis and wish to keep minimise both the short and long term risks to your health, this single occasion drinking advice is also relevant for you.
Alcohol and pregnancy
The CMO’s guidance is that:
- If you are pregnant or think you could become pregnant, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum
- Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk
How can we help?
Our team can offer support for those drinking up to and including ‘higher risk’ levels. Together we set goals and monitor drinking levels using diaries. We work with you to develop a plan that will enable you to safely manage your drinking. Why not take our online assessment today - you learn more about your health and wellbeing and depending on what you tell us, we can help you make positive lifestyle changes.
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