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ALCOHOL     

The National Health Service (NHS) has become aware of the detriment that alcohol has on our health, families, communities and the nation as a whole. In order to monitor our alcohol intake, a unit system was developed in 1987. This unit system allows all individuals to assess and monitor the amount of alcohol they are consuming. In short, our health care system is encouraging all of its patients to drink responsibly and take responsibility for our health.

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Units are a simple way of expressing the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink. One unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol, which is around the amount of alcohol the average adult can process in an hour. This means that within an hour there should be, in theory, little or no alcohol left in the blood of an adult, although this will vary from person to person.

 

The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink as well as its alcohol strength. For example, a pint of strong lager contains 3 units of alcohol, whereas the same volume of standard lager has just over 2 units.

 

Calculating units

 

Using units is a simpler way of representing a drink's alcohol content, which is usually expressed by the standard measure ABV, which stands for alcohol by volume. ABV is a measure of the amount of pure alcohol as a percentage of the total volume of liquid in a drink.

You can find the ABV on the labels of cans and bottles, sometimes written as "vol" or "alcohol volume" or you can ask bar staff about particular drinks.

 

For example, wine that says "12% ABV" or "alcohol volume 12%" means that 12% of the volume of that drink is pure alcohol.

 

You can work out how many units there are in any drink by multiplying the total volume of a drink (in ml) by its ABV (which is measured as a percentage) and dividing the result by 1,000.

 

  • Strength (ABV) x Volume (ml) ÷ 1,000 = units.

For example, to work out the number of units in a pint (568ml) of strong lager (ABV 5.2%):

  • 5.2 (%) x 568 (ml) ÷ 1,000 = 2.95 units

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(this information has been provided by the National Health Service)

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 If you think you or someone you know has an alcohol problem, contact our drug service. Click here.