What are the Unit Guidelines?

A unit of alcohol is technically 8g or 10ml of pure ethanol.

This is found in different quantities in your drink depending on the strength and volume, so the higher the strength and larger the volume, the greater the number of total alcohol units.

A single unit of alcohol would equal for example ½ a pint of lager (3.5% ABV), or a small (125ml) glass of wine (10% ABV), or a small (25ml) glass of spirits

Other typical drinks would equal:

  • One pint of 4.5% beer - 2.6 units
  • A medium glass of 12% wine - 2.1 units
  • A double shot (50ml) of spirits - 2 units
  • A small (330ml) bottle of alcopops - 1.7 units

What are the NHS recommended lower risk drinking guidelines?

The NHS refers to Lower, Increasing and High risk drinking. They advise that if you drink, you should stick to the lower risk level, as drinking at Increasing or High risk levels increase the risk of accidents, injury, vomiting, falling unconscious and long term health problems, such as liver disease and cancer.

The lower risk guidelines are:

Women are advised not to regularly drink more than 2-3 units per day

Men are advised not to regularly drink more than 3-4 units per day

We would also advise that you have at least two alcohol-free days every week, as this lets your liver recover, especially if you drink over twice the recommended guidelines.

How alcohol affects your health

Alcohol affects all the parts and systems of your body, and it plays a role in more than sixty different medical conditions.

If you are regularly drinking at Increasing or High Risk levels, you will quite likely already have experienced some problems linked to alcohol, such as:

  • low energy
  • weight gain
  • memory loss
  • poor sleeping or insomnia
  • relationship issues
  • sexual difficulties
  • injury

In the long-term, Increasing and High Risk drinking greatly increases the risk of:

  • cancer
  • alcohol dependence
  • high blood pressure
  • liver disease
  • stroke