How much is safe?
Sadly, there is no such thing as safe levels of drinking. The more alcohol you drink the more you are at risk of alcohol related disease. However, experts advise minimising your risk by drinking within the daily recommended limits:
- Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day
- Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day
It's a mistake to try to "save" all your units for the weekend, and swamp your liver with 20-30 units of alcohol over the weekend!
As well as this, stopping drinking for 48 hours is also strongly advised to give your body (and liver) a chance to recover.
How much alcohol do you really drink?
A common misconception is that a unit of alcohol is the same as a single alcoholic drink. Not true.
One unit of alcohol is 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol.
In addition, the percentage alcohol by volume (ABV) shown on drinks bottles, cans and boxes tell how many units of alcohol there are in a litre. This means that a bottle of wine (12%ABV) would contain 12 units in a litre or 9 units in a 750 ml bottle.
Put into perspective, a couple sharing a bottle of wine at home in the evening on a daily basis would be drinking 4.5 units of alcohol a day, or 31.5 units a week, above the recommended daily guidelines.
So knowing the number of units in your favourite drinks helps to keep track of how much you are drinking on a regular basis. As a rough guide, the alcohol content in some common drinks is shown below:
A pint of ordinary strength beer, lager, cider (3%): 2 units
A pint of strong lager (5%): 3 units
A standard glass of wine (175ml, 12%): 2 units
A large glass of wine (250ml, 12%): 3 units
A standard measure of spirit (25ml, 40%): 1 unit
A 275ml bottle of alcopops (5%): 1.5 unit
Calculating the amount of units in your particular drink is easy. Just multiply the ABV number by the size of the drink in ml, then divide by 1000.