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How much alcohol is safe to drink

November 26, 2013
New research on alcohol is emerging all the time, but not much of it agrees with each other. At the same time, there are a lot of news articles which frequently pop up regarding how much alcohol is safe to drink. Many of the news articles are more concerned about grabbing headlines and provoking a reaction from the reader which is not a healthy message to send to the readers. Overall, this leads to a lot of confusion and many are totally unaware of what is safe and what is not.

Government guidelines say that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day and women should restrict themselves to 2-3 units a day. However, this does not tell the whole story. One factor that should definitely not be ignored is the reasons that people drink, as this can be more important as how much is being drunk. The guideline also does not take binge drinking into account, where an individual may only drink on one day of the week, but massively exceed their recommended daily allowance of alcohol on this occasion. If you regularly exceed your daily allowance, an alcohol rehab process may become necessary.

Why these recommendations?

You liver removes alcohol at an approximate rate of 1 unit per hour in an adult. Larger amounts of alcohol put more pressure on the liver and can produce toxic chemicals that can damage liver cells. Consistently drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of problems such as cirrhosis, cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

What is a unit of alcohol?

A unit of alcohol is the equivalent of 10ml of pure alcohol, which is the equivalent of 8g in weight. This equates to approximately half a pint of ordinary strength beer. A small glass of wine contains one and a half units.

However, converting units to drinks is not a reliable method of gauging how much you drink. For a start, many beers and wines are stronger than in recommended guidelines. Therefore, you may think that you are drinking safely, whilst being unaware that you have exceeded your recommended amount.

When is it safe to drive?

The legal drink drive limit is 80 mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. However, converting this into the quantity of alcohol that can be consumed is not so simple. The amount of alcohol you could drink and safely drive changes from person to person and can depend on factors such as:
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Metabolism
  • Stress levels
  • whether you've eaten recently 
  • age
So you may ask yourself how much you can get away with drinking and driving. However, the question you should be asking yourself is “if I’m, driving, do I need to drink?” It is far safer to not take a chance when driving and there is no reason why you have to drink alcohol.

How much alcohol will harm your health?

Whilst you should not exceed the government’s daily unit guidelines, how much alcohol you can safely drink is not a simple question to answer. Instead of focusing on how much you can drink, think about the reasons why you may be drinking. Many will drink alcohol to relieve stress, but this could do more harm than good.

Alcohol is a depressant, this means that it will slow down the processes of your brain. Whilst it may be drunk initially to relieve stress, as more is consumed it may trigger a negative emotional response. When drinking to relieve stress becomes a regular occurrence, it may contribute to depression and anxiety which will make stress harder to deal with. This can create a vicious circle where alcohol is used to help deal with depression but actually makes it worse.

So as well as sticking to the government guidelines, it is important to maintain a healthy attitude to drink and not to assume that it is necessary to enjoy a night out.

How much alcohol leads to addiction?

There is no set amount of alcohol that will lead to addiction. It is important to separate the facts from the stereotype in this situation. There are many people who may be alcohol dependent who are in denial because they are not constantly drunk. There are varying levels of dependence and they do not always involve excessive drinking. More so, if you feel that you NEED to have a drink to enjoy yourself or relax then you may have an unhealthy attitude to alcohol which may lead to addiction.

Instead of thinking about how much you may be drinking, think about how regularly you are drinking. It may be most evenings or it may be restricted to the weekends. If you find yourself drinking on a regular basis, try taking a break from alcohol from time to time and see if you miss it. Not only will this improve your attitude to drinking, but will also help your body to prevent becoming accustomed to alcohol.

If you need help with alcohol addiction, call Cassiobury Court today. Our residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation service offers a full alcohol detox plan as well as therapies to help you cope with life without alcohol.
 
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