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Alcohol is a drug like any other, but because it is legal and socially acceptable, we tend not to worry about it so much. Our culture tends to celebrate drinking and even drunkenness, and messages in the media often show the positive side – the fun and the excitement of drinking. The downsides are often not so visible, but they are there. 21 people die each week from alcohol related harms. 1 in 5 people in Ireland do not drink alcohol.

No. For some people the advice is not to drink at all:

    • People doing activities that require coordination and concentration like driving, operating machinery, water and snow activities
    • People under the age of 18
    • Women who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding
    • People taking certain medications
    • People who are dependent on alcohol or other substances or who are recovering from dependence. 

Binge drinking means drinking a large amount of alcohol in one sitting, usually in a short space of time. Binge drinking normally means the concentration of alcohol in your blood gets high, so that you will feel drunk.

Men: 17 standard drinks (170 grams of pure alcohol) or less, spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days.

Women: 11 standard drinks (110 grams of pure alcohol) or less, spread out over the course of a week, with at least two to three alcohol-free days. 

There is no completely safe amount of alcohol. The low-risk guidelines are based on the amounts of alcohol that have been proven to reduce health risks as much as possible.

A standard drink contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. This means a single shot of spirits, half a pint of normal strength beer or cider or a small glass of wine.

According to health experts, regularly drinking more than 6 standard drinks in a single session can seriously increase the harmful effects of drinking. It increases your risk of serious health problems like cancer, liver disease and high blood pressure. Also, if you drink a lot in one session, you are much higher risk of alcohol poisoning or hurting yourself or someone else. Read more about accidents and injuries. 

There is no such thing as a completely ‘safe’ level of drinking, but there is are guidelines about how to keep the risk of alcohol related accidents, injuries and diseases low, in the short term and the long term.

Binge drinking increases the risk of harm from alcohol. If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions a week, you increase your risk of death from accidents and injuries and from long term illness. For example, 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. Binge drinking is also linked with violence, anti-social behaviour and family problems.

The guidelines are based on research about the amount of alcohol that reduces the risk of harm over a person’s lifetime (based on a lifetime risk of dying from alcohol) and that reduces the risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking. 

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