Cut down or quit?

How much is a lot?

Recommended Guidelines
Why can men drink more than women?

Why not 15 drinks at once?
Test yourself

Recommended Guidelines

Current medical advice recommends: 

  • For men:
    At most 21 units a week and at least two days a week when you don’t drink.
    Preferably, no more than 3-4 units of alcohol per day. What is a unit?
  • For women:
    At most 14 units a week and at least two days a week when you don’t drink.
    Preferably, no more than 2-3 units of alcohol per day. What is a unit?

If you stick to these guidelines and are in reasonable health, you won’t suffer any long-term physical damage associated with alcohol use.

Why can men drink more than women?

Alcohol gets into the blood through the stomach and is distributed throughout the body’s fluids. The more water someone’s body contains, the more diluted the alcohol will be. This is related to weight and sex: on average, women weigh less than men and have less water in their bodies. Thus the same amount of alcohol will be distributed over 36 litres of body fluid in a woman, and over 42 litres in a man. As a result, women are under the influence more quickly than men.

Why not 15 drinks at once?

Drinking large amounts now and then causes more harm to the body than having a few drinks several times a week. 

Drinking huge amounts of alcohol in a short period (‘binge drinking’) carries several risks. There is a higher risk of damage to all of the organs in the body that come into contact with alcohol. Excessive drinking can result in a heart attack, although the risk is lower with young people. Alcohol thins the blood, which increases the chances of conditions such as a brain haemorrhage.
A rapid rise in the percentage of alcohol in the bloodstream can cause alcohol poisoning, resulting in loss of consciousness or coma. If the nervous system is badly numbed, the breathing centre may be paralysed, resulting in death. In contrast, drinking in moderation almost never causes physical problems.

Test yourself

To take a short and informative test of your alcohol use, fill out our alcohol use questionnaire It will give you a good idea of whether or not you need to take action. 

The questionnaire is for guidance purposes only. You should always seek the advice of your GP if in doubt.