Keeping Me Well - Cardiff and Vale University Hospital

Alcohol Awareness

Drinking alcohol in moderation can be enjoyable, but drinking excessively or ‘binge drinking’ can have a harmful effect on our health and wellbeing and on others around us. Sometimes, we don’t effectively keep track of how much we are drinking, and drink more than we intend.

Research has shown that 1 in 5 of us are drinking more during the COVID-19 pandemic. This might include starting drinking earlier in the day, drinking on days when you wouldn’t usually, and drinking more in a session. Try this quiz to see how healthy your drinking habits are.

Regular, heavy drinking can lead to a decline in mental health and wellbeing. Whilst we may feel relaxed after a drink, the long term affects of alcohol can impact on mental health and lead to feelings of depression and anxiety.

If you are concerned about somebody you know or care for, please contact your GP who may refer you to the relevant healthcare professional.

How much is too much?

The UK Chief Medical Officers issued alcohol consumption guidelines in 2016, based on research and evidence gathered over more than 20 years.

To keep health risks low, it is recommended not to drink more than 14 units in a week (for both men and women). Spread your alcohol consumption across 3 days or more, and don’t drink excessively on any one day. If you are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, the safest advice is to not drink at all. It can be difficult to work out how many units are in drinks. If you are unsure, this online calculator may help you to work out how much you are drinking. For more information, see the ‘Thinking about your Drinking’ leaflet.

Cutting down on alcohol

Cutting back on alcohol doesn’t mean giving up, but there are a few simple things you might want to consider:

  • Try swapping what you would usually drink for something smaller, for example a smaller glass of wine or a bottle of beer instead of a pint.
  • Try a lower strength drink with fewer units or lower alcohol content (ABV).
  • Alternate between an alcoholic drinks and soft drinks or a glass of water.
  • Only drink alcohol with a meal.

Making small changes to your drinking habits and following the advice can have a positive impact not only on your health, but also your finances. Learn more about the health issues linked with excessive drinking, as well as the impact that your favourite drink might have on your weight.

Ways to relax without alcohol

Many of us use alcohol to relax at the end of a busy week. However, there are lots of other ways we can wind down such as pampering yourself with a bath, starting a new hobby or catching up with friends.

Here are a few ways to relax without alcohol:

  • Read a good book
  • Go for a walk outside
  • Practise yoga or any exercise of your choice

Find out more about how you can relax without alcohol.

Local drug and alcohol awareness services

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board offers a range of NHS services designed to help people experiencing problems with alcohol and / or drug use. More information can be found here.

Further sources of support for Adults

Further sources of support – Young People

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