Information about alcohol


Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

The Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for both men and women are:

  • To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
  • If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over 3 or more days.
  • If you have 1 or 2 heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risks of death from long term illness and from accidents and injuries.
  • The risk of developing a range of health problems, including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast, increases the more you drink on a regular basis.
  • If you want to cut down the amount you drink, a good way is to have several drink-free days each week.

Units Explained

Units are a way to describe the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. This was developed to help people understand how much alcohol they are drinking, because it is the alcohol itself that is harming people’s health.

The number of units in a drink can vary depending on the bottle or glass size, as well as the strength of the alcohol.

Alcohol Consumption in Scotland-from Scottish Health Survery 2019

  • 1 in 4 people (24%) drink at hazardous or harmful levels (defined as drinking more than 14 units per week).
  • Drinking more than 14 units a week was reported by 32% of men and 16% of women.
  • Men drink an average of 15.5 units of alcohol a week, and women drink an average of 8.8 units a week.
  • 17% of people say they are non-drinkers.

The Risks of Drinking too Much

Alcohol is a toxic chemical which can have a wide range of adverse effects on almost every part of your body.

The effects of alcohol can vary.

Sometimes you may feel the effects almost instantly or after you'ver had a few drinks.

What affects alcohol's impact

Many things can affect the impact alcohol has on you, including what you have eaten, what mood you are in and

how much sleep you've had.

This is an important reason for you to know and understand how many units you have consumed.

Don't risk your health

Drinking more than the low-risk guidelines on a regular basis increases your risk of serious health conditions.

Regular or frequent drinking means having alcohol most weeks and the more you drink the higher the risks to your health.

Serious risks include:

Binge drinking

Drinking a lot of alcohol in a single occasion, sometimes called ‘binge drinking’, is especially harmful and can increase your risk of:

  • accidents resulting in injury or death
  • misjudging risky situations
  • losing your inhibitions and increased risk-taking/making decisions you usually would not
  • becoming a victim or a perpetrator of crime
  • self-harm and suicide

To reduce your health risks on any single occasion:

  • limit how much you drink
  • drink more slowly
  • drink with food
  • alternate alcoholic drinks with water or non-alcoholic drinks

Social issues

Drinking too much alcohol could also contribute to social problems such as unemployment, relationship breakdowns, domestic abuse and homelessness.

Still not sure about units? Try the Scottish Government's alcohol unit generator and alcohol unit calculator.

Useful links


For suppport to gain or sustain employment or for a bespoke employability service for those in the Glasgow area who are in recovery please use the link below:


Many mental health issues are linked to alcohol and substance misuse and the Community Addiction Teams located around Glasgow are a very good place to seek advice: