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An alcoholic drink every now and then is unlikely to harm your health, but drinking excessively can have negative consequences.
If you drink regularly you may not realise how many units you’re actually drinking or what the limits are.
This article will give you guidance on how much you should drink, what happens when you drink and how to cut down.
Guidelines on how much alcohol you should drink tend to vary from country to country, but in the UK, men and women are advised to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week. A unit of alcohol is the same as a single shot of spirits, half a standard 175ml glass of wine or half a can of beer, lager or cider.
Aim to have several alcohol-free days a week (minimum). If you’re pregnant, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol altogether. If you have a medical condition or take certain medications, speak to a doctor about whether or not it’s safe for you to drink alcohol.
The following questionnaire can help you understand if your drinking habits should be brought to the attention of a medical professional.
Answer yes or no to the following questions.
If you answered yes to 2 or more questions, see a doctor. They can offer advice as to whether you may benefit from making changes to your drinking habits.
When you drink a lot of alcohol over a long period of time, it damages your liver, causing:
The more alcohol you drink and the longer you drink for, the more likely you are to get liver damage.
While it may seem like everyone around you is drinking without a problem, this isn’t strictly true. In fact, studies show that between 1995 and 2013 the number of 15 to 34-year-olds with alcohol-related liver disease tripled, so be mindful about how much you’re drinking.
We know that too much alcohol is bad for the liver, but alcohol can also have a negative impact on the brain. It can cause chemical changes in the brain, which can affect our thoughts, feelings and actions. This is why a drink can help you to feel more confident and relaxed, but it can also make some people feel angry, aggressive, anxious or depressed, especially if they continue to drink.
If you drink a lot for many years, alcohol can interfere with ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain, contributing to feelings of depression and anxiety. But that’s not all. Regular heavy drinking can lead to long-term memory problems, even when you’re sober. To prevent this, keep track of how many units of alcohol you drink and try not to go over the recommended limit.
And if you think alcohol may be affecting your mood, try to cut down the amount you drink and track how you feel.
If you want to cut down the amount of alcohol you drink but don’t know where to start, these tips may help.
If you regularly drink a lot of alcohol or tend to drink more than the recommended weekly limit, to suddenly reduce your alcohol intake may be dangerous. See a doctor for advice on how to cut down on alcohol safely.
You may find the following resources useful for managing your alcohol habits:
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.