Reducing your alcohol intake

WHY is reducing my alcohol intake important?

Reducing your alcohol intake is important to help lower your blood pressure and protect your kidneys. Regularly drinking above recommended levels can cause serious health problems such as:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart attacks
  • increased risk of various cancers
  • liver problems
  • reduced fertility.

The effects of alcohol on your health will depend on how much you drink. The more you drink, the greater the health risks. Most people who have alcohol-related health problems aren’t alcoholics. They’re simply people who have regularly drunk more than the recommended levels for some years.

The NHS recommends:

• Men should not regularly drink more than 3–4 units a day.

• Women should not regularly drink more than 2–3 units a day. ‘Regularly’ means drinking these amounts every day or most days of the week

What are ‘units’?

Units are a standard way to indicate the alcohol content of a drink, but you can’t just count each drink as a unit of alcohol. The number of units depends on the strength and size of each drink.



Pint of normal strength beer =
2 units of alcohol

Pint of strong beer =
3 units of alcohol


Single (25ml) measure of spirit =
1 unit of alcohol

Medium (175ml) glass of wine =
2 units of alcohol

Large (250ml) glass of wine =
3 units of alcohol


HOW do I reduce my alcohol intake?

  • Decide you are going to cut down and tell your friends and family so that they can support you.
  • Identify certain days of the week when you will not drink alcohol at all.
  • Have smaller sized drinks.
  • Have lower strength beers or low-alcohol drinks.
  • Make your drinks last longer by adding mixers.
  • Don’t eat salty snacks with your drinks as they will make you thirsty and want to drink more.
  • Drink plenty of water or soft drinks so that you are not using alcohol to quench your thirst.
  • Keep a check on the units you drink using the guidance above or use an online calculator (

Information and support

NHS Choices

Alcohol on the LiveWell site

Drinkline – the national alcohol helpline

Tel: 0800 917 8282

Your GP – for advice about local alcohol support services

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