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Weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines

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

Weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines

The recommended weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines are less than:

  • 11 standard drinks for women
  • 17 standard drinks for men

Drinks should be spread out over the week.

Have 2 to 3 alcohol-free days per week. Drink no more than 6 standard drinks on any one occasion.

The less you drink the lower the risk of developing alcohol-related health issues.

What is in a standard drink

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

Some examples of a standard drink in Ireland are:

  • 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 12.5% alcohol wine has about seven standard drinks.

Spread out your drinks

Sticking to the limit is not safe if you drink 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. You’re also more likely to lose control, have accidents and take risks.

If you are worried about your alcohol use, take our alcohol test to find out what type of drinker you are.

All measures are not the same

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
  • size of the measures you pour at home
  • strength of the alcohol

When it’s not safe to drink at all

It is not safe to drink:

  • if you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant
  • 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

Related topics

Alcohol during pregnancy

page last reviewed: 08/11/2019
next review due: 08/11/2022

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