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Weekly low-risk drinking guidelines

Low-risk drinking reduces the risk of alcohol-related problems. 

11 standard drinks spread out over the course of a week, with at least two alcohol free days.
17 standard drinks spread out over the course of a week, with at least two alcohol free days.


What is a standard drink? 

1 Standard Drink contains 10g of pure alcohol


Standard Drink

half a pint

half a pint of
beer / stout / ale

single measure of spirits

single measure
of spirits


small glass
of wine

In Ireland a standard drink has about 10 grams of pure alcohol in it. In the UK a standard drink, also called a unit of alcohol, has about 8 grams of pure alcohol.

Here are some examples of a standard drink.

  • A pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
  • A small glass of wine (12.5% volume)
  • A half pint of normal beer
  • An alcopop (275ml bottle)

A bottle of wine at 12.5% alcohol contains about seven standard drinks.

Spread out your drinks

Sticking to the limit is not safe if you drink all your weekly allowance in one session, or over a couple of nights.

Drinking like this is the most harmful way of drinking, for your health and because you’re more likely to lose control, have accidents and take risks.

Spread your drinks over the week, and have at least 2 drink-free days

All measures are not equal

Home measures tend to be bigger than pub measures and some drinks are stronger than others.   

If you want to be sure about how much you’re drinking, check: 

    • The size of your glass or bottle
    • The size of measures you pour at home
    • The strength of the alcohol 

 When it’s not safe to drink at all

  • If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Read more about alcohol and pregnancy
  • If you are on certain medications or have a condition made worse by drinking
  • Before you operate machinery
  • Before or while driving
  • Before doing anything risky or that requires skill
  • Before or during swimming

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