Drinking alcohol

Drinking alcohol is seen by many as a normal part of socialising with friends and family. It is often significant in celebrations such as weddings and birthdays, and some people find a drink after a busy day provides stress relief.

However, drinking too much alcohol can cause a number of health problems, including:

  • cancer
  • raised blood pressure
  • stroke, and
  • liver disease.

Cutting down on drinking can reduce your calorie intake and help you lose weight, reduce your spending and improve your sleep and overall wellbeing.

Hints and tips

  • Try to stick to safer drinking levels – new guidance released by the Chief Medical Officer in January 2016 says that both men and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day.
  • Keep a drinks diary – you can track your alcohol consumption using the DrinkAware mobile phone app and see how many calories are in your drinks.
  • Have at least 2 alcohol free days every week.
  • After a heavy drinking session, avoid alcohol for 48 hours.
  • Have something to eat beforehand – alcohol on an empty stomach makes you drunk more quickly.
  • Space out your drinks and have a soft drink in between.
  • Plan your journeys to and from an event where you may consume alcohol. Check for public transport using TfL's Journey Planner and use licensed cabs – text HOME to 60835 for a list of licensed cab numbers.
  • If you want to cut down, try doing it with a friend – moral support can be motivational.

Calculating units of alcohol isn't always easy – it depends on the type and strength of drink and how much of it you have. Here's some guidance to help you:

Drink Volume Units
Wine – small glass (ABV 12%)  125ml  1.5
Wine – standard glass (ABV 12%)  175ml  2.1
Wine – large glass (ABV 12%)  250ml  3
Lager/beer/cider – bottle (ABV 5%)  330ml  1.7
Lager/beer/cider – can (ABV 4.5%)  440ml  2
Lager/beer/cider – pint (ABV 3.6%)  1 pint  2
Strong lager/beer/cider – pint (ABV 5.2%)  1 pint  3
Alcopop – bottle (ABV 4.5%)  275ml  1.5
Spirits – single shot (ABV 40%)   
 25ml  1