Everyone reacts differently to alcohol. Your height, weight and gender are just some of the factors that play a part in how alcohol affects you. Even what you've had to eat that day or how much sleep you've had recently can make a difference to how you feel when you drink.

The guidelines

The government advises that if you drink alcohol, there’s no safe level. The Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) alcohol unit guidelines say both men and women shouldn’t regularly drink more than 14 units a week.   

The more alcohol you drink the greater the risk to your short and long-term health.   

Saving up your weekly units so you can drink them all on a Friday night is not the way to interpret the government's advice.

If you do drink as much as 14 units a week it’s best to spread your intake evenly across the week. If you want to cut down your drinking the best way is to have several drink-free days a week.

What's a unit of alcohol?

It's all very well talking in units, but what does this really mean when you're at the pub or having drinks with dinner at home?

The size and strength of your drink will determine the number of units it contains. Unfortunately it's not as simple as one drink, one unit.

A glass of wine can range between just over one unit and more than three units depending on the size of the glass and type of wine. And when you're drinking at home, you tend to pour measures that are larger than you get in your local.

So you could be regularly drinking far more than you think. A great way to avoid losing track of how much alcohol you’re pouring out at home is to use one of our Unit and Measure Cups.


Tolerance to alcohol

Just because you're not always out 'getting drunk' don’t assume you're drinking at safe levels," says Dr Michael Wilks. "Heavy drinkers build up a tolerance.”

But isn't tolerance a good thing? Doesn't it mean you can drink more without it affecting you?

“Building tolerance might mean that you don’t notice the effects so much,” says Dr Wilks. “But the fact remains: the more you drink the greater the risk to your health. If you're building up tolerance, that’s a warning sign.”

Find out why taking a break from alcohol can reset your tolerance.

Calculate your alcohol intake

Many people don't have a realistic idea of how much they're drinking. 

A good place to start is by finding out just how many units there are in your favourite drink. 

Find out exactly how many calories you’re drinking with our unit and calorie calculator.

If you’re worried you, or someone you know is drinking too much, visit our page on alcohol dependence.