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Health Risks

Most people who have alcohol-related health problems aren’t alcoholics. They're often normal people who have just regularly drunk more units of alcohol than the NHS recommends for a number of years.

The hidden harms of alcohol usually only become apparent after years have passed. And by then it can be too late to reverse these problems. Serious health problems may have developed such as; liver problems; high blood pressure and an increased risk of various cancers and heart attacks.

The amount you drink, how often you drink, and how long you’ve been drinking all make a difference. Even if you don’t think it will. Drinkers can be divided into three categories depending upon their drinking behaviour. These are:

Risk
Men
Women
Lower risk
This level of drinking means that in most circumstances you have a low risk of causing yourself future harm.

No more than 3-4 units a day with at least 2 alcohol free days per week.

No more than 2-3 units a day with at least 2 alcohol free days per week.
Increasing risk
Drinking at a level that increases the risk of damaging your health and could lead to serious medical conditions

More than 3-4 units a day on a regular basis.*

More than 2-3 units a day on a regular basis.*
Higher risk
This level of drinking has the greatest risk of health problems.

More than 50 units per week (or more than 8 units per day) on a regular basis.*

More than 35 units per week (or more than 6 units per day) on a regular basis.*

*Regular in this context means drinking at this sort of level every day or most days of the week; whilst for weekly drinking it refers to the amounts drunk for most of the year.

Use our Alcohol Quiz find out what risk level you’re in.