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Responsible Drinking

Moderate drinking in appropriate circumstances presents little or no harm to the drinker and can even provide health benefits.

The following advice is based on the Government's responsible drinking message as set out in 'Sensible Drinking - The Report of an Inter-Departmental Working Group’(1995).


Most men can drink up to three to four units of alcohol a day without significant risks to their health. For men aged 40 and over there is evidence that drinking one to two units a day, but no more, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.


Most women can drink up to two to three units of alcohol a day without significant risk to their health. Women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant should avoid getting drunk and are advised to consume no more than one to two units of alcohol once or twice a week. After the menopause there is evidence that drinking one to two units a day, but no more, can protect against the risk of coronary heart disease.

Most people enjoy drinking and find it a sociable and relaxing thing to do. Normally it leads to no harm. But there are times when drinking too much - or even drinking at all - can cause problems. For example:

Do not:

  • drink and drive
  • operate machinery, use electrical equipment or work at heights after drinking
  • drink before playing sport or swimming
  • drink while on certain medications - check labels and ask a doctor if unsure
  • binge drink - it can lead to health and other problems


  • abstain for 48 hours, if you do have an episode of heavy drinking, to let your body recover
  • remember drinks poured at home are often bigger than pub measures
  • work out how much you drink and try to stick to the guidelines - which are daily benchmarks not weekly targets
  • get help from a doctor or a specialist agency if worried about your drinking
    remember that drinking responsibly can be enjoyable and is compatible with a healthy lifestyle

For more information on responsible drinking, visit The Portman Group or the Drink Aware Trust.

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