Safe drinking

Nights out can provide material for a lot of unforgettable moments. The problem comes when you end up forgetting those fun times because you’ve had a few too many. Too much of ANYTHING (that includes YouTube and Netflix) can be a bad thing and that’s especially true of drinking. Read on to find out more...

Three young women are standing on grass. They are in a semi-circle. They are discussing safe drinking. This is a full-body image.

Say goodbye to risk drinking. Here are ways to practice safe drinking.  

  • Drink plenty of water, especially in between drinks. Pacing yourself  is a good way to practice safe drinking. A pint of water before you crash on the couch can also see off any headaches.
  • Eat well before you drink and your body will be prepped to soak the alcohol up. Go for food that takes a long time to digest, such as bread, cheese, potato and pasta (you’re welcome). These will basically just line your stomach. A pint of milk is also thought to have the same effect.

Drinking advice

  • Try not to mix your drink. You just end up adding to the number of toxins that your body has to deal with. If you’re planning on a sesh then stick to one type of spirit and change up the mixers. That way you won’t crash out so badly.
  • Try turning up to the bar or party later than usual, to minimise your drinking time, or kick off with a soft drink to stop you feeling so thirsty. 
  • Binge drinking is dangerous, as your body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour. If you can pace your drinking, and know when enough is enough, you won’t be MIA the next day. If you feel yourself losing the plot, just step away from the drinks for the night. It also increases the risk of developing a number of medical conditions and / or health problems.
  • Stick to one substance. Drugs often don’t work well with alcohol. It makes the effects unpredictable, and can be seriously risky when combined with drugs such as antidepressants or sleeping pills. Mixing the two can also lead to health problems. Try and practice safe drinking one night. Then, if you really want, do drugs (SAFELY) some other time.
  • A hair of the dog drink might help blunt your headache, basically by making you drunk again, but all you’re doing is delaying the inevitable alcohol comedown.
  • Finally when the party time is over take a break from boozing – set aside an alcohol-free period every now and then. It might just be one day in a week or a month, but your body will thank you for it.

How do you measure how much you drink?  

The amount of alcohol a person consumes is measured in units. Here are some rough examples of what makes up a typical unit of various alcoholic beverages:

  • Half a pint of beer or cider = 1.5 units;
  • A small glass (125ml) of wine = 1.5 units;
  • A single measure of spirits (e.g. whisky, vodka, rum or gin) = one unit.

What is ‘acceptable’ for safe drinking?  

Men: As a rule, health experts say that a man should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day. This means blokes shouldn’t down more than two pints of lager or beer, or three glasses of wine a day. These guidelines are based on science, but we also know that there’s a culture of binge drinking specifically with men so drinking small amount of alcohol might not be such a bad idea.

Women: Health experts recommend women should not regularly exceed 2-3 units a day. In real terms this is a pint or a couple of glasses of wine a day. 

At the end of the day, these are just guidelines. The effects of alcohol depends on a number of factors including their physical health and the type of alcohol you’re consuming. Our advice is just to continue drinking responsibly and know your own limits. 

Why is there a gender difference? 

It’s based on science. The male body is made up of 66% fluid, compared to 55% for women. This means alcohol is more diluted in a man’s body than a woman’s. As a result, women tend to get drunk faster than men on the same amount of alcohol.

Next Steps

  • Are you drinking too much? Drinkaware has a useful self assessment tool to help you discover if your drinking habits are healthy, or something to worry about.
  • Drinkaware offers advice and information on alcohol and your drinking habits.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 12-Aug-2021