If we logged our drinking each week and added up the number of units consumed would we be within the recommended amount?
The NHS recommends:
- Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day but no more than 21 units a week.
- Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day and no more than 14 units a week.
- Men and women should have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
- If you’ve had a heavy drinking session, avoid alcohol for 48 hours.
“Regularly” means drinking this amount every day or most days of the week.
Read more at NHS Choices – Alcohol Units
According to Drinkaware, the simplest way to understand the government’s lower risk guidelines is to see what they equate to in common types of drinks. Knowing this makes it easier to stay within the guidelines.
This means, each day we should not drink more than:
- One large (250ml) glass of wine (13% ABV) for men or medium (175ml) glass of wine for women, or
- A pint and a half of lager or ale (4% ABV) for men or pint of lager or ale for women, or
- A pint and a half of cider (4.5% ABV) for men or pint of cider for women, or
- 4 single (25ml) spirits (40% ABV) for men or 3 single (25ml) spirits for women
As a guide these are the units of some popular drinks:
- Small 125ml glass of wine (ABV 12%) – 1.5 units
- Medium 175ml glass of wine (ABV 12%) – 2.1 units
- Large 250ml glass of wine (ABC 12%) – 3 units
- Pint of lower strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 3.6%) – 2 units
- Pint of higher strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 5.2%) – 3 units
- 330 ml bottle of lager Bottle of lager/beer/cider (ABV 5%) – 1.7 units
- 440ml can of lager/beer/cider (ABV 4.5%) – 2 units
- 275ml alcopop (ABV 5.5%) – 1.5 units
- Single small (25ml) shot of spirits (ABV 40%) – 1 unit (standard single measure in England and Wales)
- Single large (35ml) shot of spirits (ABV 40%) – 4.4 units (standard single measure in Scotland)
How easy is it to notch up more than the recommended daily and weekly units?
Well I for one can’t have one glass of wine and then put the bottle away for another day. Some people can but the majority I suspect have a ‘stop’ button that kicks in a few drinks further into the drinking session.
A couple of large glasses of vino after work or at home in the evening is 6 units a day and 42 in a week more than double the recommended guidelines. Increase this to 3 large glasses (or a bottle) of wine we are up to 9 units a day or 63 units in a week which is around 3 times the recommended guidelines.
Those of us that prefer 3 or 4 pints of 4% ABV beer, lager or cider each day after work or at weekends can be looking at 7.5 to 10 units a day or 52.5 to 70 units a week. This is two to three times the recommended guidelines.
If we drink 6 to 9 units a day Monday to Thursday and boost it a little at weekends with more wine, beer and a few shots thrown in we could soon be knocking on the door of 100 units a week!
Add to the total the extra drinking at weddings, parties and other celebrations and our consumption may be frighteningly dangerous.
If pubs, restaurants and hotels had a decent range of alcohol free beers and wine rather than the token Becks Blue alcohol free lager it may help us cut down on alcohol. I for one have decided to go AF (Alcohol Free) and party sober.