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Binge Drinking

Know… about binge drinking

Many people think ‘binge drinking’ is when a person drinks continually, possibly for a couple of days or more, and gives up other activities and responsibilities, including work and family. We've all heard people saying things like:

A binge is when you drink for three or four days constantly.

Bingeing is disappearing at the weekend and being found in the pub drunk all 

the time.

When you binge, you drink to the point where you don’t remember anything.

Actually, binge drinking is:

  • a man drinking 10 or more units of alcohol in one session (as little as five pints of normal strength beer);

  • a woman drinking seven or more units of alcohol in one session (eg three small glasses of wine and a couple of vodkas).

Health experts have determined that drinking above these levels can be harmful to your health. And if you think about it… many of us actually binge drink regularly at weekends without realising!

Binge drinking doesn't even mean you have to be drunk – some people who drink regularly would not be drunk at these levels, while others would be very drunk indeed.

Binge drinking is associated with particular health risks, even if you drink less than your weekly limit (21 units for men or 14 units for women).

Know… your units

Most people accept that too much alcohol can be bad for you. But do you know how much is too much?

What's recommended?

Drinking guidelines have been developed for people over 18 years of age, based on medical advice.

It is recommended that men drink no more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day and no more than 21 units over the course of the week.
It is recommended that women drink no more than 2 to 3 units of alcohol a day and no more than 14 units over the course of the week.

Remember, for each unit you drink over the daily limit, the risk to your health increases. It's important to spread the units throughout the week – you can't ‘save up’ your units for the weekend or a party.


Drinking more than the recommended limit can be harmful, but there are also times when it’s better not to drink at all

  • When driving. There is NO safe limit for drinking and driving. Never ever drink and drive. Also remember that someone who drinks a lot in the evening may still have alcohol in their bloodstream the next morning. For more information on this, visit the DOE Road Safety website at www.doeni.gov.uk/roadsafety

  • When pregnant.

  • When sleeping with your baby. Sometimes parents decide to bring their baby into bed for feeding and settling at night. In such circumstances, even two units of alcohol will increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or overlaying (rolling over and smothering) your baby. Falling asleep with your baby on a sofa after drinking is particularly dangerous. Just as you wouldn’t get into a car and drive if you’ve been drinking, don’t get into bed with your baby if you’ve been drinking
  • .

  • When on medication.

  • Before or when operating machinery. Alcohol slows reaction times, affects vision and balance, and makes bodily movements harder to control. Avoid activities that require physical coordination or quick response.
  • When working with electrical equipment or ladders.
  • When taking part in potentially risky activities such as swimming and other competitive sports.