Government guidelines recommend not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week, equivalent to around six pints of average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine, and to also avoid binge drinking.
If you regularly drink more than this or are worried that your drinking is getting out of control, it could be worth cutting down on your alcohol intake or stopping drinking altogether.
Regularly drinking more than the recommended 14 units a week can have serious, long-term effects on your health. However, drinking less than this could still have damaging effects, which is why this amount is called “low risk” instead of “safe”.
Drinking more than the maximum recommendation can lead to serious conditions, including:
On top of these physical illnesses, evidence suggests that regularly drinking a lot of alcohol can have a negative effect on your mental health.
As well as the long-term effects of drinking, binge drinking sessions can also cause problems. Drinking a lot at one time can mean you’re:
If you’re a regular drinker or find that you binge drink, cutting back or quitting alcohol altogether can be beneficial. This can mean reducing your intake, stopping drinking for a set amount of time or quitting completely.
Excessive and long-term drinking can put you at risk of cirrhosis of the liver. However, the liver has amazing regenerative properties so stopping drinking, either temporarily or permanently, can help it recover.
Avoiding alcohol can help your liver focus on other jobs, helping your whole body. This can result in positive changes just a few weeks after stopping drinking.
Excessive alcohol intake can put you at risk of developing certain cancers, therefore, reducing the amount you drink could help drastically reduce this risk.
Heart disease risk
Drinking too much alcohol can cause high cholesterol, due to the way alcohol is metabolised by the body, which can block arteries. Reducing the amount you drink or quitting alcohol helps to reduce your risk of heart disease.
There is a good chance that quitting alcohol will help you lose weight as all alcohol is high in calories. If you quit or cut down on alcohol and don’t consume the calories another way, this should help you if your goal is to lose weight, especially when combined with exercise and a balanced diet.
Excessive drinking can damage the brain, causing issues with memory and concentration. Cutting down can help protect your brain and allow you to function better day-to-day.
Different things work for different people, so the way you cut back may not work as well for someone else. Here are a few steps to try.
Set a goal
Make a note of how many drinks you’re going to have in a day or week, making sure to spread out your units. This can be the same each week or you can reduce your intake over time. Ensure that any goals are realistic.
Measure and count your drinks
Not only should you count how many drinks you’re having, but you should also measure each drink. This will allow you to accurately track what you’re drinking.
Drink slowly and space them out
It’s good to get into the habit of drinking every drink slowly by sipping it and to space your drinks out by having non-alcoholic options in between. You can try timing yourself to make sure you don’t have more than one alcoholic drink an hour and ensure that for every alcoholic drink you have, you consume a non-alcoholic one.
Avoid triggering situations
Triggers can make it hard to change your habits and can mean you end up drinking alcohol more often. Avoid places, people and activities that could bring on the urge to drink.
If you want to quit drinking alcohol altogether, it is a good idea to talk to your GP. They can give you advice and point you in the direction of any groups or programmes in your local area that can support you.
You should also:
It is also important that you talk to loved ones about your decision so they can support you. If anyone can’t support you or acts in a way that encourages you to drink, it may be a good idea to reduce contact with them.
You should also focus on your health and wellness. Avoiding alcohol is a great way to improve your health so it’s a good idea to combine this with other manageable changes to help you feel better. This can be simple things such as staying hydrated, eating three healthy meals a day, getting more sleep and exercising regularly.
If you're concerned about symptoms you're experiencing or require further information on the subject, talk to a GP or see an expert consultant at your local Spire hospital.
Niched in the care sector, Cahoot Care Marketing offers a full range of marketing services for care businesses including: SEO, social media, websites and video marketing, specialising in copywriting and content marketing.
Over the last five years Cahoot Care Marketing has built an experienced team of writers and editors, with broad and deep expertise on a range of care topics. They provide a responsive, efficient and comprehensive service, ensuring content is on brand and in line with relevant medical guidelines.
Their writers and editors include care sector workers, healthcare copywriting specialists and NHS trainers, who thoroughly research all topics using reputable sources including the NHS, NICE, relevant Royal Colleges and medical associations.
The Spire Content Hub project was managed by:
Lux Fatimathas, Editor and Project Manager
Lux has a BSc(Hons) in Neuroscience from UCL, a PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and experience as a postdoctoral researcher in developmental biology. She has a clear and extensive understanding of the biological and medical sciences. Having worked in scientific publishing for BioMed Central and as a writer for the UK’s Medical Research Council and the National University of Singapore, she is able to clearly communicate complex concepts.
Catriona Shaw, Lead Editor
Catriona has an English degree from the University of Southampton and more than 12 years’ experience copy editing across a range of complex topics. She works with a diverse team of writers to create clear and compelling copy to educate and inform.
Alfie Jones, Director — Cahoot Care Marketing
Alfie has a creative writing degree from UCF and initially worked as a carer before supporting his family’s care training business with copywriting and general marketing. He has worked in content marketing and the care sector for over 10 years and overseen a diverse range of care content projects, building a strong team of specialist writers and marketing creatives after founding Cahoot in 2016.