Mayday Hospital Care

One drink does not equal one unit – some drinks contain far more alcohol than you think. How many units are in your favourite drink?
In this article:

  • How many units of alcohol do health experts recommend men and women should drink, plus the drunk driving limit
  • Alcohol-related health risks and how much alcohol it’s safe to drink
  • A list of popular alcoholic drinks, mixes and cocktails and how many units they contain

Sticking to the right number of units is crucial to prevent accidents and major health risks. Find out how many units of alcohol are lurking in your favourite tipple.

The average British man drinks 17 units of alcohol a week, and the average woman drinks 7.6 units of alcohol and rises. But are you drinking too much? That depends on how many units of alcohol you drink, your body size, fitness and how quickly you drink alcohol.

 

Drinking Too Much: Alcohol Health Risks

The number of alcohol-related deaths has tripled in the last 20 years. A quarter of all car accidents are alcohol-related, and over a third of pedestrians killed on our roads are over the limit.

Alcohol Information: What Happens to Your Body When You Get Drunk?

When you drink alcohol, the alcohol is carried straight to the heart, lungs, muscles and brain via the liver. The higher the concentration of alcohol in your blood, the greater its effect will be. The liver flushes alcohol from the body at the rate of about one unit an hour, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to speed up to process.

Alcohol Units: How Much Alcohol is it Safe to Drink?

It’s recommended that women shouldn’t drink more than 2 units of alcohol a day and 14 in a week, and men should stick to 3 units a day and 21 a week. The legal alcohol driving limit is four units for men and three for women – but one drink does not equal one unit – some alcoholic beverages and brands contain much more than others, and it all depends on the concentrated alcohol volume in the drink. One UK unit contains eight grams of pure alcohol. Read more: How Much is it Safe to Drink?

 

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in a Beer?

A pint of ordinary-strength lager contains about 2 units of alcohol, and cans contain about 1.5 units. But a pint of strong lager, such as Stella Artois or Kronenbourg 1664, contains about 3 units, and some continental and extra-strength beers and lagers may contain up to 5 units a pint.

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in a Glass of Wine?

It’s common knowledge that a glass of wine is one unit of alcohol – but is it really? A small glass of wine contains about one unit of alcohol – but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably find that you don’t drink small glasses, which are supposed to contain only 125ml – that’s half a regular glass.

Most wine glasses, and certainly those you’ll get in a bar, contain at least double that amount – and therefore at least 2 units. Plus, that’s not considering that many wines have a higher alcohol content than average, which will also push up the unit tally. This means that in reality, a standard glass of wine these days adds up to between 2.3 and 3 units for a 250ml glass – that’s the legal limit for women!

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in a Shot of Spirits?

An average pub measure of spirits like vodka and rum is about one unit – but many use larger measures or serve doubles unless you specify otherwise, so be aware that you may be drinking double the units without realising it.

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in Alcopops?

Sweet, fizzy alcoholic drinks such as Smirnoff Ice, WKD or Bacardi Breezer usually contain about 1.5 units of alcohol, although some brands contain 2.

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in a Cider?

A pint of cider will set you back 2 units of alcohol, while strong cider like Strongbow or Dry Blackthorn will cost you 3 alcohol units.

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in Cocktails?

Cocktails are dangerous when it comes to alcohol units, as they often taste innocent but can contain several shots of alcohol. An average-sized party cocktail can contain a massive 4 – 5 units.

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in a Pint of Bitter?

A pint of ordinary bitter contains about 2 units, and best bitter such as Fuller’s ESB and Young’s Special is about 3 units.

Alcohol Units Information: How Many Alcohol Units Are There in a Pint of Stout?

A pint of stout adds up to about 2.5 units.

Consult with an alcohol rehabilitation centre if alcoholism is negatively affecting your life or those around you.