Alcohol units

We’re supposed to be keeping an eye on how much we drink, but how many of us really know what a unit of alcohol is?

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. Use this quick guide to work out how many units are in your favourite pint of beer or glass of wine.

 

The idea of counting alcohol units was first introduced in the UK in 1987 to help people keep track of their drinking. Units are a simple way of expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which is around the amount of alcohol the average adult can process in an hour. This means that within an hour there should be, in theory, little or no alcohol left in the blood of an adult, although this will vary from person to person.

The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink, as well as its alcohol strength. For example, a pint of strong lager contains 3 units of alcohol, whereas the same volume of low-strength lager has just over 2 units. Knowing your units will help you stay in control of your drinking.

To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level if you drink most weeks:

  • Men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis
  • spread your drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units a week
  • if you want to cut down, try to have several drink-free days each week.

Fourteen units is equivalent to 6 pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.

 

 

 

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