Alcohol information

Alcohol is a drug.

Half a pint of beer, one single spirit or one small glass of wine is one unit of alcohol.

Common Alcoholic Drinks and Unit Guide 

Beers/Ales (Pints)

  • Guinness Draft  2.3 units
  • John Smiths  2.3 units
  • Boddingtons  2.2 units
  • Tetley's Bitter  2.2 units
  • Worthington's  2 units


  • Stella Artois  3 units
  • Carling  2.3 units
  • Fosters  3.5 units
  • Budweiser (Bottle)  1.7 units
  • Carlsberg  2.3 units
  • Carlsberg Export  2.8 units
  • Heineken  2.8 units
  • Cider/Perry  3 units


Alcohol is a depressant which slows down the brain and nervous system and reduces inhibitions.

The liver can only break down one unit of alcohol every hour so blood alcohol levels can remain high for many hours after a heavy drinking session.


Drinking alcohol can lead to less control over behaviour, which may lead to inappropriate risk-taking and violence.

A man regularly drinking four or more units a day increases the risk to his health, while it is three or more units a day for a woman.

Drinking 50 units a week is harmful for a man, whilst drinking over 35 units is harmful for a woman.

Longer term health risks for men and women from excessive harmful drinking can include inflammation of the lining of the stomach, throat cancer and liver disease.

Helping a loved one with an alcohol problem

If someone in your family has a drinking problem, you may be struggling with a number of painful emotions, including shame, fear, anger, and self-blame. The problem may be so overwhelming that it seems easier to ignore it and pretend that nothing is wrong. But in the long run denying it will be more damaging to you, other family members, and the person with the drinking problem.

What NOT to Do

  • Don't attempt to punish, threaten or bribe.
  • Don't make emotional appeals. It only increases feelings of guilt and the compulsion to drink.
  • Don't cover up or make excuses for them and don’t shield them from the consequences of their behaviour.
  • Don't take over their responsibilities.
  • Don't hide or dump bottles.
  • Don't argue with the person when they are drunk.
  • Above all, don't feel guilty or responsible for another's behaviour.

Tips on Coping

Dealing with a family members alcohol problem can be an emotional rollercoaster. It’s vital that you take care of yourself and get the support you need. It’s also important to have people you can talk honestly and openly with about what you’re going through.

A good place to start is by joining a support group. Listening to others with the same challenges can be a tremendous source of comfort and support.

You cannot force someone you love to stop abusing alcohol.

Don’t expect the person to stop drinking and stay sober without help. Your family member will need treatment, support, and new coping skills to overcome a serious drinking problem.

Recovery is a bumpy road, requiring time and patience. An person with alcohol problems will not magically become a different person once sober.

Admitting that there’s a serious problem can be painful for the whole family, not just the alcohol abuser. It is important that you both seek help and support.

Family Drug Support has  many years experience of offers on-going support to families via the helpline, a support group and e-mail. Contact details are on the Links page. 

Please download this useful leaflet for more information: Here