Drinking levels and risk



7.5 million people are unaware

of the damage their drinking

could be causing them.

 

The NHS recommends that:

  • men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week
  • drinking should be spread out over three days or more if you do drink as much as 14 units a week. Do not 'save up' your units to drink in 1 or 2 days
  • you should not drink at all if you are pregnant

Fourteen units is equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses (125ml) of low strength wine.

The latest guidelines also make the following recommendations to keep short-term health risks low:

  • limit the total amount of alcohol you drink on any one occasion
  • drink more slowly, with food and alternate with water

Everyone that drinks can be grouped into one of three drinking levels: lower, increasing and higher risk. To find out which drinking group you fall in to, take Swanswell's FAST test.


The drinking levels

Lower risk

The lower risk group is made up of people who drink at/below the guidelines set by the NHS.

If you’re a lower risk drinker, you’re less likely to develop problems due to your drinking. However, that doesn’t mean your drinking is safe, as all drinking comes with an element of risk.

Increasing risk

The increasing risk group is made up of:

  • people who regularly drink more than the recommended 14 units a week

If you’re an increasing risk drinker, you’re much more likely to develop an illness due to your drinking. You’re:

  • 1-2 times more likely to get cancer of the mouth, neck and throat
  • twice as likely to develop liver cirrhosis
  • 1-2 times more likely to develop high blood pressure

Women are also 1.2 times more likely to get breast cancer.

Higher risk

The higher risk group is made up of:

  • people who regularly drink more than six units a day or 35 units a week

If you’re a higher risk drinker, you have the highest risk of developing an illness due to your drinking. You’re:

  • 3-5 times more likely to get cancer of the mouth, neck and throat
  • 3-10 times more likely to develop liver cirrhosis
  • 2-4 times more likely of developing high blood pressure
  • twice as likely to have an irregular heartbeat

Women are also around 1.5 times more likely to get breast cancer.


If you'd like support to reduce your drinking, Swanswell offer telephone appointments with an experienced worker at a time convenient for you. Click here to find out more - please note this service is available for free in areas where we deliver face-to-face services.

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