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There is growing evidence which suggests that alcohol – or too much of it – can have a negative effect on our mental as well as physical health.

Mental health problems are not only the consequences of too much drinking but mental health problems can also cause people to drink too much. When we have alcohol in our blood, our mood changes, and our behaviour then also changes. The type and amount of change depends on how much we drink and how quickly we drink it.

Alcohol can reveal or magnify our underlying feelings. This is one of the reasons that many people become angry or aggressive when drinking. If our underlying feelings are of anxiety, anger or low mood, then alcohol can exaggerate them.

Limit your alcohol intake

If you drink alcohol it is important not to exceed the recommended safe limits. Department of Health guidelines state that men can drink between 3 to 4 units of alcohol per day without serious risk to health. This amount is reduced to between 2 to 3 units per day for women.

A unit of alcohol is equal to about half a pint of normal strength lager, cider or bitter, a pub measure (25ml) of spirits, or a 50ml pub measure of fortified wine (such as sherry or port). 

A basic guide:

  • Pint of ordinary strength lager = 2 units
  • Pint of strong lager = 3 units
  • Pint of bitter = 2 units
  • Pint of ordinary strength cider = 2 units
  • 175ml glass of red or white wine = 2 units (approximately)
  • Pub measure of spirits = 1 unit
  • Alcopop = 1.5 units (approximately)
  • Can of beer or lager = 1.5 units

What can I do?

There are plenty of ways to look after and improve your mental health. Firstly, if you think you may be experiencing mental health problems, it is vital to seek help from your doctor.

Other ways of helping yourself include:

  • Taking regular exercise
  • Eating well
  • Keeping in touch with friends and loved ones
  • Asking for help when you need it
  • Sharing your problems and feelings with others
  • Taking a break from your regular routine from time to time.

The NHS Choices website has lots of information on tackling alcohol abuse (please note: this is a link to an external website: NHS Choices)

Local support and advice:

Follow this link to find out more about local drug and alcohol treatment services - Drug and Alcohol NDAS




Last updated: 30 May 2012

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