Alcohol - an introduction

Visit our Alcohol advice during Covid-19 page for information about local services.

The low risk weekly guidelines

It can be a bit tricky to understand and remember how much alcohol is in drinks, and how this can affect our health. If you choose to drink, the low risk guidelines can help with this.

No-one can say that drinking alcohol is absolutely safe, but by sticking within these guidelines, you can lower your risk of harming your health if you drink most weeks:

  • Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week.
  • Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.
  • If you're pregnant, the safest option is not to drink at all.

If you want to cut down how much you’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.

Counting the units

There is one unit of alcohol in each of these:

  • half pint of regular beer, lager or cider
  • 1 very small glass of wine (9%) 125ml
  • 1 single measure of spirit
  • 1 small glass of sherry
  • 1 single measure of aperitifs.

Watch this short film which explains what a unit of alcohol is:

Video transcript:

Did you know, it's recommended that we shouldn't drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week? That's the equivalent to 6 glasses of wine (175ml per glass) or 6 pints of beer (4% beer/larger) or 14 single shots of spirit (25ml per shot) or 6 icecreams (954 calories).

To find out how many units are in your favourite drinks, visit the DrinkCoach website.