WHAT ACTUALLY IS A UNIT OF ALCOHOL?

It may sound simple but how many of us can answer that question? Lovelong House asks Consultant Psychiatrist Dr.Tim Rank, to break it down into easy measures for us:

Guidelines often refer to units of alcohol about safe drinking limits, but many people still have little idea what one unit of alcohol means. Here at Lovelong House, we treat all addictions and alcohol misuse is amongst the highest.  What starts out as a social habit can quickly become a harmful one. So, raising the awareness and education of alcohol units can be a helpful starting point.

Units- the Current Facts:

In absolute terms, it is 10ml of pure alcohol, which equates to one 25ml single measure of spirits (abv 40%) or a third of a pint of beer (abv 5.5%) or half a standard (175ml) glass of wine (abv 12%).

How much alcohol is in my drink?

Many people underestimate how many units of alcohol are contained in one drink, for example, a pint of 5.5% beer is 3 units, whilst a 250ml glass of 12% wine is 3 units.

Controlled drinking at home:

Whilst it is easy to keep track of pub measures of spirits, at home people often do not measure the number of spirits they pour into a drink.  For example, a homemade gin & tonic could easily be 4 units.

What are the current guidelines?

Until recently the chief medical officers UK guidelines suggested that women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week, whilst men should not exceed 21 units per week, but this has recently changed. The guidelines now suggest that to remain within the low-risk category, neither men nor women should drink more than 14 units per week. It is also suggested that at least 2 days are alcohol-free and that the alcohol is spread evenly across the other days of the week, rather than consumed all at once, as this would constitute binge drinking, which is particularly harmful. A new category has been introduced between 14 – 35 units per week, which is regarded as potentially harmful, whilst those drinking more than 35 units per week are regarded as high risk of developing serious health conditions, such as heart problems, high blood pressure, poor mental health and 7 types of cancer.

Reality vs Denial:

Many people are in denial about the amount of alcohol that they drink and the potentially harmful consequences, but sadly this denial will not protect them, as ultimately alcohol is a poison to the body and can also lead to psychological and physical addiction.

To speak to someone with empathy and in confidence about one of our services, please get in touch with a member of our experienced staff today via phone or email by visiting our contact page.

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