Find out if you are drinking too much

If you think you might be drinking too much or want to stay within recommended limits to avoid ill health, read on. There are many health risks associated with drinking too much or too often. It can affect your body, your mind and your relationships. The good news is that as soon as you reduce your alcohol intake, you start to cut your risk.

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alcoholic drinks

Know your units

Knowing how much is too much when it comes to alcohol is confusing. This simple unit calculator developed by Alcohol Change UK can help you know how much you're drinking. The NHS also provides information on alcohol units.

Whilst there is no safe level of drinking when it comes to alcohol, the guidelines for both men and women recommend that you should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week. There are approximately four medium glasses (175ml) of wine in a bottle (750ml) which is equivalent to nearly 10 units.

rethink your drink infographic

Top tips

  • Avoid drinking more than 14 units per week.
  • Try to have drink-free days to lower your risk of developing alcohol-related diseases.
  • It is best to spread drinking over several days and avoid heavy drinking sessions.


If you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, the safest approach is not to drink alcohol at all, to keep risks to your baby to a minimum.

Find out more

Alcohol and short-terms effects

In small amounts, alcohol can make you feel more cheerful and relaxed for a short time. However, its effects can last for several hours, depending on:

  • the amount consumed and how quickly you drink
  • your size and whether you’ve eaten
  • how used to drinking alcohol you are
  • your mood before drinking

Top tips

  • Drink more slowly, sit out a round and limit the amount of alcohol you drink on a single occasion
  • Alternate your usual drink with water or a low-alcohol alternative
  • Make sure you have eaten before drinking

Alcohol and calories

Alcoholic drinks are high in calories and these can easily stack up. Many people forget to count the calories in their drinks. If you’re trying to lose weight, think about what you are drinking as well as what you are eating.

Calories from alcohol are ‘empty calories’ and hold no nutritional value and per gramme alcohol contains almost as many calories as fat. Cutting back on alcohol can help you maintain a healthy weight and help maintain normal body processes, such as fat burning and absorption of nutrients from your food.

Top tips

  • Calculate the calories in your alcoholic drinks to stick to healthy limits.
  • Remember that drinking can lead to eating more.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a non-sugary soft drink.

Did you know?

Alcohol and ill-health

Regularly drinking more than the government’s recommended guidelines of 14 units per week for men and women increases your risk of developing serious health conditions. According to Cancer Research UK, all types of alcoholic drink can cause cancer, increasing the risk of seven types of cancer including breast, bowel, liver, mouth and throat. People who smoke and drink put themselves at higher risk of cancer, due to cell damage and harmful chemicals entering the body.

Alcohol Change UK has produced a series of helpful fact sheets on how alcohol can affect the mind and body. You can also find out more from the NHS.

Top tips

  • Don’t save up your 14 units, it's best to spread evenly across the week and have regular drink-free days.
  • Start later in the evening, drinking with food and alternating with water.
  • Be around people who will allow you to make your own choices regarding alcohol and don’t feel pressured to keep up.

Alcohol and relationships

If you drink heavily or often, this can have an impact on you and harm those around you. Drunken behaviour can be frightening and unpredictable, with children and young people more vulnerable to alcohol-related harm.

If your drinking is affecting your life and relationships, you feel you have lost control over your drinking or other people criticise your drinking, seek help from your GP. Cutting down or stopping suddenly could result in withdrawal symptoms.

If you have a family, by drinking responsibly you can create a good role model for your children.

Divorce, domestic abuse and unemployment are some of the most serious consequences of dependent drinking on relationships. Your GP can support you with a range of services and treatments.

Find out more

Alcohol Change UK have produced fact sheet on alcohol and families.

Top tips

  • Consider how much you’re drinking and how it makes those around you feel.
  • Understand what triggers you to drink and plan to make a change - see our section below for helpful tips.
  • Start to notice the benefits from cutting down – better mood, concentration, memory, skin, sleep and energy.

Alcohol and Mental wellbeing

People sometimes use alcohol as a way to cope with anxiety, stress, depression and life’s up and downs. Whilst it can initially help you feel more relaxed, the longer-term effects of excessive drinking can be harmful to our physical and mental health.

If you are feeling anxious, low, or experiencing any other symptoms of mental health problems, or you think that you are drinking too much, support is available. See your where to get help section below.

Top tips

  • Drink more slowly, sit out a round and limit the amount of alcohol you drink on a single occasion.
  • Alternate your usual drink with water or a low-alcohol alternative.
  • Make sure you have eaten before drinking.

Making a change

Drink Coach offers a free, quick and confidential alcohol quiz to help you to work out how much you are drinking and what to do to cut back.

If you successfully make changes to reduce your drinking, as well as reducing your risk of developing serious conditions, you can expect to enjoy many benefits which will boost your quality of life.

Rethink your drink is an initiative led by Hampshire’s Public Health team, who play an important role in delivering improved health outcomes for people in Hampshire, driven by individual choice and with less dependence on health and social care.

benefits of cutting down infographic

Top tips

  • Try the NHS Drink Free Days app to put a plan in place. Download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play.
  • Make social plans that don’t revolve around alcohol.
  • Handle boredom or stress differently by starting something new.


It’s important to seek medical advice before you stop drinking if you have physical withdrawal symptoms like shaking, sweating or feeling anxious until you have your first drink of the day. It can be dangerous to stop drinking too quickly without proper help.

Where to get help

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, support is available both locally and nationally.

Get support for you or someone else here