In Surrey Heath it is estimated that over 16,500 adults drink unsafe levels of alcohol – and this does not include those who are classed as alcohol dependent (defined by Department of Health).

Regularly drinking too much alcohol can have severe effects on your health. High blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, liver cirrhosis and even cancer are linked to the effects of long-term drinking. It can also increase your risk of developing over 60 diseases and your mental health and social life can also be affected.

Click here and take the Don’t Bottle It Up Alcohol Test to work out how risky your drinking is, access personalised advice online and find out where you can get support locally.

Did you know….

  • A standard glass of wine can contain as many calories as a piece of chocolate.
  • Two large glasses of white wine not only puts a woman over the recommended daily limit for regular alcohol consumption, but also provides nearly 20% of the recommended daily calorie intake.
  • A pint of lager has about the same calorie count as a packet of crisps.
  • Drinking five pints of lager a week adds up to 44,200kcal over a year, equivalent to eating 221 doughnuts!
  • Drinking more than one glass of 12% wine a day puts your health at risk.
  • It’s a myth that alcohol helps you sleep. Alcohol actually increases the risk of insomnia.
  • Any occasion a woman drinks six or more units constitutes binge drinking. That works out at two large glasses of 12% wine, or two pints of 5% beer or cider.
  • Any occasion a man drinks eight or more units constitutes binge drinking. That works out at two and half pints of 5% beer or cider, or four doubles of 40% spirits.

Joanna Munro gave up alcohol for Dry January and soon started noticing unexpected health benefits. Click here to read Joanna’s story.

If you are trying to cut down or just want to find out how much you are drinking, the NHS has developed a free and confidential online Down Your Drink programme. There's also a range of tools such as drink diaries and mobile phone apps available to help you start thinking about your drinking.

What is safe drinking?

In addition, surveys have shown that only 12-16% of Surrey adults are aware of the recommended guidelines for safe drinking, suggesting more needs to be done to raise awareness on what the safe levels are. It is not possible to say that any level of alcohol is completely safe, but by keeping within the guidelines, there's only a low risk of causing harm in most circumstances.

These guidelines are for people that are generally in good health and not for those in pregnancy or on medications


It is recommended that:

  • Men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day.
  • Women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day.

Unfortunately this doesn't mean you can 'save up' all your units for a Friday night and consume them in one go.

It's also recommended that:

  • Men should avoid consuming more than 8 units at once.
  • Women should avoid consuming more than 6 units at once.
  • All adults should have at least two alcohol-free days a week.

If you do overindulge occasionally, the advice is to avoid drinking alcohol for 48 hours afterwards.

What is a unit?

In scientific terms, one alcohol unit = 10ml (in volume) or 8g (in weight) of pure alcohol. This is about the amount of alcohol that the average adult body can process in one hour. To help translate this into pints, glasses, shots and bottles, here are some popular drinks and their content of alcohol in units:

 3 Units 1.6 Units 1 Unit 1.7 Units
Cider copy Red wine copy shot copy Larger copy
Pint of Cider - ABV 5.3% Glass of red wine (125ml) - ABV 12.5% Sambuca Shot -ABV 42% Bottle of larger - ABV 5.2%

The number of units depends on the size and the strength (shown as ABV - Alcohol By Volume) of your drink. You may have noticed the strength of wine these days is generally greater, and that it can be hard to find a wine glass smaller than 250ml when you are out in a bar or restaurant.  This is important because these subtle changes can contribute to you drinking, often unknowingly, more units than usual.

For more detailed look at what's in your drink, visit the NHS alcohol unit calculator.

Why is safe drinking important?

You don't need to be an alcoholic to be drinking too much.  Excess alcohol can lead to a wide range of health problems. In the short term, intoxication may cause dizziness, vomiting, loss of co-ordination and even loss of consciousness.  It may also lead to hangovers, headaches, accidents, assaults, unprotected sex, unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.  In the longer term, the health risks of regularly drinking above the recommended limits include cancer, stroke, heart and liver disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia and impotence.

Read more about the health risks linked to drinking too much.

Should children drink alcohol?

The Chief Medical Officer advises parents and children that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. If children drink alcohol, it should not be until they are at least 15 years old.  In addition it's illegal to:

give alcohol to children under five buy alcohol on behalf of anyone under the age of 18

Get more advice on children and alcohol.

How can I keep track of my drinking?

If you are trying to cut down or just want to find out how much you are drinking, the NHS has developed a free and confidential online Down Your Drink programme. There's also a range of tools such as drink diaries and mobile phone apps available online to help you start thinking about your drinking. Find out more about how you can track your drinking.

Where can I get help?

  • If you are concerned about your own or someone else's drinking, you can call:
    Surrey Drug & Alcohol Care 24/7 confidential helpline on 0808 802 5000 (free from mobile and landlines).
  • For information on alcohol treatment services in Surrey, contact the Surrey Drug and Alcohol Action Team.
  • Alternatively, you can get help from your GP or local support organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous.