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How do I know if I am drinking too much alcohol?

It is recommended that we drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week. However, it is important to note that these units should be spread evenly across 3 or 4 days. This means that you should not be saving up your 14 units to consume all in one day, because this is known as binge drinking. Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol a once; 6 or more units for women and 8 units for men in a single session.

Signs you need to cut back

Alcohol is a crutch

Looking forward to having a drink is normal but feeling like you need one to cope with a situation is not. If you find yourself ‘needing’ alcohol when you are feeling stressed or anxious, it is likely that alcohol has become a crutch for you. By crutch we mean that alcohol is used to make your life more bearable or a situation easier to deal with. For example, if you drink to feel more confident in social situations or to take your mind off things. Upon receiving bad news, is your immediate reaction is “I need a drink”?

Your plans centre around alcohol

Have you noticed that when you meet up with your friends it usually involves drinking? This could be down to your friendship group, but think about who then drinks the most, or encourages people to speed up so they can get another round in. If this is you, you may not have noticed it before, but your friends may have. Which brings us onto the next sign…

Friends/family have commented on the amount you drink

This doesn’t necessarily mean outright criticism such as “you need help; you’re drinking too much” it could be more subtle comments like “you can drink anyone under the table” or “you’re a bad influence on me”. These comments, masked as jokes, could be an attempt at making you aware without causing embarrassment.

But what about if someone does try to have a more serious conversation with you about the amount you drink, do you get defensive?

It is starting to affect your health

Too much alcohol is usually immediately obviously when you wake up the next morning with a banging headache, feel nauseous and telling yourself never again. If you’re finding yourself waking up with hangovers more often than usual it could be a result of ageing, but it is most likely that you’re drinking more than you used to. So, make sure keep track of your units or limit yourself to a couple of drinks per session.

You think about drinking alcohol a lot

Do you find yourself craving alcohol? Do you want to crack open a cold beer or have a glass of wine as soon as you get home from work? Every now and again is fine because we all get cravings after all but watch out if you start wanting to drink every day.


If you feel as though your drinking has become, or is in a danger of becoming, a problem you can join our free Drink Less programme where we offer judgement-free advice and guidance on cutting back.

You may also have been reading this with a friend or family member in mind, so please do point them to this blog and our service if you think they could benefit.