Units - What's It All About?

At the Ministry of Cheer we know how fun it is to drink alcohol and that for many of us it really is a big part of social lives (after all we are all human). We really aren’t all that interested in telling you horror stories about what will happen if you drink too much, or trying to persuade you to stop drinking. What we are interested in is giving you the right information so you can make your own decisions about how much and when you drink.

So we must mention units here and how there are different amounts of alcohol that are recommended as a ‘safer level’ to drink, depending whether you are male or female shaped. (Sorry girls, but women really truly are more affected by smaller amounts of booze).

You may have come across the term ‘units’ and not really have a clue what it means. We don’t blame you, it is pretty complicated.

The nuts and bolts of it are that we need a way to measure the amount of alcohol in a drink. Because there is such a wonderful array of alcoholic beverages we need a way to compare the alcoholic content of each one so that party people like yourselves can keep a check of what you are drinking.

Roughly, the unit content of each drink looks like this:

image of units by volume type

Basically, one unit of alcohol is equal to about 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol (it’s proper posh name is ethanol) and that is the amount that the average human body can process (get rid of from the system) per hour. So it is important to know how much you are putting in and when so you can decide whether you want to drink more or even slow down or jack it in for the night.

The government recommends that:

  • Women drink no more than 2 – 3 units of alcohol a day

    (about a large glass of wine or nearly two alcopops).

  • Men can drink a little bit more, about 3 – 4 units a day

    (this is roughly a couple of pints of lower strength beer, or a pint of the stronger stuff)

It’s important to remember that the advice that goes with this says that we shouldn’t be doing this every day and that between drinking we should take a day or two break from drinking alcohol.

Some people will save up their units like pocket money and spend it all in one go, but this is a risky business as there is a much much bigger risk to your health if you drink more than 6 units in one go if you are a woman and more than 10 if you are a bloke. Just to let you know, this is classed as binge drinking. If you want to work out how many units you have drunk this week use this nifty unit calculator.

So now you know how to decipher the mystery that is units, but more importantly you know the limits of what you can drink before it is deemed to be unsafe. So you can make your own decisions about how much to drink.

Lecture over. Now watch this lush animation from Drink Aware on Units and Measures.

But I want to know more about units and recommended levels.

I want to download a free drinks tracker for my mobile phone

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