For support on how to cut down safely, seek medical advice or contact the BEAT
Counting alcohol units can help people track how much they are drinking. Units are a way of describing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. One unit of alcohol is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol.
How many units are in a drink?
- Strong pint of beer/lager (568ml) 3 units
- 1 medium glass of wine (175ml) 2 units
- Bottle of alcopop (275ml) 1.4 units
- 1 single measure of spirits 1 unit
- Bottle of wine 10 units
There is no completely safe level of drinking, but you can lower your risk of harming your health by following these recommendations:
- Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week
- Don’t ‘save up’ your units to use in one or two days. If you do drink as much as 14 units in a week you should spread this out over three or more days.
- 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.
Public Health England has a drinks tracker app.
The app helps people keep an eye on how much they are drinking and take control with daily tips and feedback.
Links to Health Conditions
Alcohol misuse can damage a person’s physical and mental health as well as causing social harms such as violent assaults, domestic abuse, marital breakdown and road traffic accidents.
Alcohol not only causes liver problems, it can increase the risk of several types of cancer, coronary heart disease and affect fertility. Long term alcohol consumption can result in a deficiency of vitamin B1, this can lead to the development of long term brain damage. Around 1 in 11 people with alcoholism develop a severe brain condition called Wernicke’s Encephalopathy.
If a woman is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all. Drinking in pregnancy can harm the baby, with the more you drink the greater the risk.
Help and Support
For advice, information and support on alcohol, contact the Bournemouth Engagement and Assessment Team (BEAT).
A brief intervention starts with a short set of questions to work out a person’s level of alcohol use and how this impacts on their life. Based on the information given, a way forward can be recommended. Goals can be set and hints and tips offered as well as regular support. Livewell Dorset offers brief interventions to people in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole. Residents of Bournemouth can also access the Bournemouth Recovery Treatment System.
If someone loses control over their drinking and has an excessive desire to drink, it's known as dependent drinking (alcoholism). Dependent drinking usually affects a person's quality of life and relationships, but they may not always find it easy to see or accept this. Severely dependent drinkers are often able to tolerate very high levels of alcohol in amounts that would dangerously affect or even kill some people. A dependent drinker usually experiences physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly cut down or stop drinking, including:
- hand tremors – "the shakes"
- seeing things that aren't real (visual hallucinations)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
This often leads to "relief drinking" to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
If you are dependent on alcohol, it is extremely dangerous to suddenly stop drinking. For support in how to cut down safely, seek medical advice or contact the BEAT:
There's also more information on alcohol from the NHS