Eat Well

Alcohol Awareness

It is recommended that men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis, but with so many different drinks and glass sizes available it is difficult to know just how much we are consuming1.

This page aims to increase your alcohol awareness by educating you on what a unit is as well as providing tips on how to reduce your alcohol intake.

Information on this page is from, and

What are units?

Units are a way of expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink.

One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol.

It takes an average adult around an hour to process one unit of alcohol. So, this means that within an hour there should be little or no alcohol left in the blood stream, although this varies from person to person.

You may also see alcohol content being expressed as a percentage followed by ABV (alcohol by volume), or sometimes just the word ‘vol’. Wine that says ‘12 ABV’ on its label contains 12% pure alcohol.

The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink, as well as its alcohol strength.

To find out how many units you are drinking use Alcohol Change UK’s unit and calorie calculator.

What is the recommended guidance on alcohol intake?

  • The Department of Health advises that men and women do not drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
  • If regularly consuming 14 units a week, these should be spread out over 3 or more days.
  • You should aim to have at least two alcohol-free days a week.
What does 14 units look like?

Need to reduce your alcohol intake?

If you are regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, try these simple tips from and to help you reduce how much you are drinking.

Make a plan, keep a drinking diary

Before you start drinking, set a limit on how much you’re going to drink. Use Alcohol Change UK’s unit calculator to help you work out exactly what you’re drinking. Keeping a drinking diary for a few weeks will help you understand your drinking pattern, so you can work out what you’re happy with and what you’re not. Download the free Try Dry app to help you keep track.

Set a budget

Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.

Talk to friends and family

If you let your friends and family know you’re cutting down and it’s important to you, you could get support from them.

Pace yourself, it’s ok to say no

Enjoy each drink slowly, and remember that you don’t have to join in every time someone else decides to drink! It can help to only drink the drinks you really enjoy and skip the ones you’re drinking for the sake of it. And it’s worth bearing in mind that the drinks you pour at home are often larger than those served in pubs.

REMEMBER: Not everyone drinks alcohol, and it’s fine to say no. It’s surprising how many people think it’s OK to pressure other people to drink – it’s not!

EXTRA TIP: Try having a glass of water in between each drink to help slow your drinking down.

Take it a day at a time

Cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.

Try drinking low alcohol and alcohol-free drinks

Alcohol-free beers, ciders, wines and more used to be rubbish, but they’ve improved so much in recent years that they’re winning awards in place of their full-strength competitors. Lots of supermarkets now have alcohol-free sections. Check out Alcohol Change UK’s no- and low-alcohol reviews to help you get started.

Make it a smaller drink

You can still enjoy a drink, but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.

Stay hydrated

Have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks.

Take a break

Have several drink-free days each week.

Eat before and while you drink

Have something to eat before you drink and, if possible, while drinking. It will slow down the alcohol being absorbed into your bloodstream and help you pace yourself.