What is the recommended alcohol limit?

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Official government advice

Cutting down on alcohol can help you look better, feel better and reduce your long-term health risks.

It can also help to lower blood pressure and to lower the risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease.

Lower cholesterol levels, better mood, improved memory and better sleep are all linked to drinking less as well. And cutting down on booze also helps with weight management.

Recommended limit

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers say there is no completely safe level of drinking but drinking less than 14 units of alcohol per week lowers the risk of health problems.

One unit equals 10ml of pure alcohol, but here’s what that 14 units looks like in real life:

  • Six pints of beer at 4% alcohol
  • Seven medium glasses (175ml) of 12% wine
  • Half a bottle of 40% spirits, e.g. whisky, vodka or gin

And each of the above equals 14 units on its own. You can’t have them all.

You shouldn’t drink all your units in one go either. You should try to spread them over three or more days. Alcohol-free days are also recommended.

Drinking is not recommended at all during pregnancy, but women shouldn’t worry if they find out they are pregnant, and they have been drinking.

Stopping drinking suddenly can be dangerous. If you get withdrawal symptoms (e.g. shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day), you should seek medical advice before you cut down.

Key sources and further reading

Drinkaware: Low-risk drinking guidelines

NHS Better Health: Drink less

16 March, 2023