How much is 'too much'?

It can be difficult to determine what 'too much' looks like for you. According to the UK Government, women should not regularly* exceed 2-3 units of alcohol a day (equivalent to a 175 ml glass of wine[13% ABV]).5

* 'Regularly' means every day or most days of the week.

If you think your drinking exceeds these guideline amounts, you may want to think about the impact this could be having on your health. Reducing your alcohol consumption to within these guidelines should lower your risk of causing harm.

To understand more about alcohol units and how they add up, visit the NHS page on the Government's guidelines.

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What impact does my drinking have on my health?

As many as one in six women may develop a health problem associated with their alcohol intake, which can include anxiety and sleep disruption, as well as long term issues such as cancer and liver disease.1,2

Increased alcohol intake can also affect your appearance – too much alcohol can result in brittle nails and hair, hair loss, spidery thread veins and can worsen existing skin conditions such as Rosacea.4

Furthermore, alcohol can contribute to weight gain by reducing fat burn and stimulating your appetite.3,4 It is also packed full of calories; at 7 calories per gram, it contains almost as many calories as pure fat.7

What many people also do not know, is that women are more vulnerable than men to the impacts of alcohol consumption and will become more sensitive to the effects of alcohol as they get older.9

View our infographic to learn more about the impact of alcohol on your health

Why reduce?

Over time, the body becomes resistant to the effects of alcohol, meaning you need to drink more before you start to feel the effects.10 This can mean that you may end up drinking to levels that can be harmful to your health, and can also make you psychologically dependent on alcohol.10

Reducing your alcohol intake can have many health benefits, whilst enabling you to continue to enjoy a drink socially. Most importantly, it may help to reduce your risk of long and short term health problems and avoid weight gain.

You can also avoid putting on weight unnecessarily – alcohol can contribute to weight gain by reducing fat burn and stimulating your appetite.9,10 It is also packed full of calories; at 7 calories per gram, it contains almost as many calories as pure fat.11

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"Many women don't realise the connection between the alcohol they drink and their weight gain but there are other reasons why women might want to think about how much they drink as alcohol can have an adverse effect on the skin, sleep patterns and energy levels."

- Fiona Hunter, Independent Nutritionist

How can I reduce?

1

Keep a drinking diary

By keeping a record of the amount of alcoholic drinks you consume per day, you can have a better idea of:

  • How many units you are drinking
  • Which situations you tend to drink in
  • What might be the best way for you to start reducing your alcohol intake

Download our drink diary template here and start keeping track of how much you are drinking

2

Counselling

It might sound intimidating, but a general practitioner, private counsellor, psychotherapist or helpline will be happy to provide you with support and advice for cutting the number of drinks you consume.11

3

Alternative therapies

Some people find that auricular acupuncture, involving the placement of needles in the outer ear, can help them relax and help reduce stress and alcohol dependency11.

Hypnotherapy can also be used to help with relaxation as well as prompting people to examine their lifestyles and change their attitudes towards regular drinking11.

4

Pharmacological intervention

For people that feel they are drinking too much, and are becoming dependent on alcohol, there are pharmacological interventions available. Some treatments work by breaking the physiological addiction cycle, whilst other treatments may cause an unpleasant reaction when a person drinks alcohol, breaking the reward cycle.

If your willpower needs a helping hand and you would like some support and advice in cutting down the number of drinks that you consume, you can contact your healthcare professional, or confidentially contact one of our private partners, which can be accessed at the top of the page. Alternatively for more information on reducing your alcohol intake, visit our ‘Further resources’ page.

Reducing doesn't have to be difficult. Take a look at our top ten tips for cutting down on your drink intake with this handy infographic