Moderate alcohol


ALL DRINKS - What does 1 unit of alcohol look likeV2 copy 2

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

It is important to moderate your alcohol intake as drinking heavily:

Binge drinking, that is drinking large amounts over a short period of time, is particularly harmful.

What is a unit of alcohol?

A unit of alcohol is a measure of the amount of alcohol there is in your drink - the more units, the more alcohol there is in your drink.

The size and strength of your drink determines how many units it contains. The strength of alcohol is measured by the percentage of alcohol by volume (% ABV).

In the UK one unit is 10ml of pure (100% ABV) alcohol. This is equivalent to:

  • 76ml of standard strength wine (13% ABV)
  • 250ml (or just under half a pint) of beer (4% ABV)
  • 25ml of spirit (40% ABV)

Home measures are often more generous than those in a pub or restaurant. For example, a large 440ml bottle or a can of strong beer (6.5%) has almost 3 units of alcohol in it.

What are the current recommendations?

For both men and women, the recommendation for people who drink regularly or frequently is that:

  • You are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level
  • If you do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over three days or more.

It is best to stay within these guidelines, but the bottom line is that there is no ‘safe’ limit. The risk of developing a range of illnesses increases with any amount you drink on a regular basis.

Drinking in pregnancy can lead to long-term harm to the baby - the more you drink the greater the risk. If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all.

Useful contacts

Alcohol Focus Scotland


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