Information on Alcohol
What are the Statistics?
Drinking can be enjoyable and at times help you to unwind or relax. Many people in Leeds drink alcohol and most of these people don’t experience any problems due to their drinking.
On the other hand, heavy drinking, getting drunk or drinking at the wrong time or in the wrong situation can lead to problems.
When asked about how much alcohol you consume most people say "a little" or "a moderate amount"of alcohol, yet 41% of men and 34% of women are drinking over the recommended levels and over 1.1 million people in England are dependent on alcohol.
The NHS advice on drinking is that men should drink no more than 3 or 4 units of alcohol per day, and women should drink no more than 2 or 3 units per day.
Drink within these guidelines and try to have atleast two alcohol free days every week.
What is a unit?
With so many different drinks and glass sizes, from shots to pints – not to mention bottles – it's easy to get confused about how many units are in your drink.
The alcohol content of drinks is measured in ‘units’. Each unit is equivalent to around 10mls or 8g of pure alcohol. The number of units in any drink is related to the strength of the alcohol content and to the volume of the drink.
A single (35ml) shot of spirits contains roughly the same amount of alcohol as a small (125ml) glass of wine. This is about the same amount of alcohol (1.4 units) as is contained in a half pint of normal strength beer. In other words, beers are no safer than spirits. What matters is how much you drink.
For more information about alcohol units, see the Drink Aware Unit Calculator which helps you track your drinking over time.
Drinking more than the recommended daily limit is potentially dangerous. Drinking more than twice your daily limit (six units for women and 8 units for men) on any one drinking occasion qualifies as a ‘binge’.
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, it is best to avoid drinking altogether. If you do choose to drink, restrict your intake to no more than one or two units once or twice per week.
What are the Health Risks of drinking too much?
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. Regularly drinking above recommended daily limits risks damaging your health. 'Regularly' means drinking these amounts every day or most days of the week.
There's no guaranteed safe level of drinking, but if you drink below recommended daily limits, the risks of harming your health are low.
Liver problems, reduced fertility, high blood pressure, increased risk of various cancers and heart attack are some of the numerous harmful effects of regularly drinking above recommended levels. The effects of alcohol on your health will depend on how much you drink. The more you drink, the greater the health risks.
What are the Benefits of Cutting Down?
The most immediate effects of cutting down include:
- feeling better in the mornings
- being less tired during the day
- your skin may start to look better
- you’ll start to feel fitter
- you may stop gaining weight
Useful Tips on Cutting Down
If you regularly drink more than the recommended limits, try these simple tips to help you cut down.
- Make a plan
Before you start drinking, set yourself a limit on how much you’re going to drink.
- Set yourself a budget
Only take a fixed amount of money to spend on alcohol.
- Let them know
If you let your friends and family know you’re cutting down and that it’s important to you, you could get support from them.
- Take it a day at a time
Try and cut back a little each day. That way, every day you do is a success.
- Make it a smaller one
You can still enjoy a drink but go for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer or a small glass of wine.
- Have a lower-strength drink
Cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with a lower strength (ABV in %). You'll find this information on the bottle.
- Stay hydrated
Drink a pint of water before you start drinking, and avoid using alcohol to quench your thirst. Have a soft drink instead.
- Take a break
Have the odd day each week when you don’t have an alcoholic drink.
Where can I get support to cut down on Alcohol?
For more details on the alcohol services available in Leeds and to find out where your nearest service is please click here.
For further information and advice on alcohol please visit the Alcohol Online page of the Leeds Let's Change website.
Or if you want to try to cut down independantly why not check out the excellent 'Alcohol and You- Self Help Guide' created by the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. This booklet gives lots of information about the different types of drinking, helps you recognise your own pattern of drinking and decide what kind of drinker you are and describes how you might change if you want to. Download this guide on the right of this screen.