How much alcohol is too much and what it can do to you.


Alcohol is a drug, and within a few minutes of drinking, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream, where it gets carried to all parts of your body. Drinking in moderation won’t harm you, but drinking too much on a regular basis could cause you long term harm. So how much is too much?

The Chief Medical Officers (CMO) guideline for both men and women states that:

– To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
– If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it’s best to spread your drinking evenly over three or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risk of death from long-term illness and injuries
– The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis
– If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days a week.

According to the Department of Health, the acceptable safe drinking levels are:

Up to 2 units of alcohol per day for both men and women
Ideally with 2 alcohol free days each week

One unit is equivalent to 8g or 10ml of pure alcohol. At 7 calories per gram, that is 54 calories per unit. One unit equates to:

Half a pint of ordinary strength beer, larger or cider
A single pub measure of spirits- vodka, gin, whisky
A small glass of wine

Here is a run-down of the immediate effects of drinking…

1-2 units (half to one pint) – You will become more confident and relaxed

3-4 units (one to two pints) – By now you’ll be more relaxed. At this point you’re well over the drink drive limit

5-6 units (three to four pints) – By this stage, your judgement will be impaired, and you’ll have difficulty concentrating.

7-8 units (five to six pints) – At this point, you might begin to slur your words, and you may start to feel a little unsteady on your feet.

15- 20 units (seven to ten pints) – At this point, your speech will become slurred, and you’ll probably also be unsteady on your feet, rowdy or silly. You might also pass out at this point.

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