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Alcohol Units

ALCOHOL UNITS

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DRINK ALCOHOL

Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream within a few minutes of being drunk and carried to all parts of your body, including the brain. The concentration of alcohol in the body, known as the “blood alcohol concentration” depends on many factors, but principally how much you have drunk, how long you have been drinking, whether you have eaten, and your size and weight.

It is difficult to know exactly how much alcohol is in your bloodstream or what effect it may have. It takes a healthy liver about 1hr to break down and remove 1 unit of alcohol. A unit is equivalent to 8gm or 10ml (1cl) of pure alcohol. Below are a few examples of the number of units contained in different drinks:

 

WHAT IS A UNIT?

  • 1 Pub Measure of Spirits = 1 unit
  • 1 Pub Measure of Sherry = 1 Unit
  • 1 Pub Measure of Wine = 1 Unit
  • ½ Pint Regular Beer (3.6%) = 1 Unit
  • 1 Pint Regular Beer (3.6%) = 2 Units

If someone drinks 2 pints of ordinary strength beer at lunchtime, or half a bottle of wine (i.e. 4 units), they will still have alcohol in their bloodstream 3 hours later. Similarly, if someone drinks heavily in the evening they may still be over the legal drink drive limit the following morning. Black coffee, cold showers and fresh air won’t sober someone up. Only time can remove alcohol from the bloodstream. The following benchmarks are a guide to how much adult men and women can drink in a day without putting their health at risk. They apply whether you drink every day, once or twice a week, or occasionally. The benchmarks are not targets to drink up to. There are time and circumstances when it makes sense not to drink at all.

Men
If you drink between 3 and 4 units a day or less, there are no significant risks to your health, BUT – If you consistently drink 4 or more units a day, there is an increasing risk to your health.

Women
If you drink between 2 and 3 units a day or less, there are no significant risks to your health, BUT – If you consistently drink 3 or more units a day, there is an increasing risk to your health.

Note: These are general guidelines. However, they do change depending on weight and size and the tolerance level of the drinker. If a doctor has advised you not to drink, or has given you lower benchmarks, these should be adhered to.

 

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