NHS Forth Valley Backs National Awareness Drive to Reduce Harm From Alcohol

People in the NHS Forth Valley area are being encouraged to think about how their weekly drinking adds up, as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the recommended alcohol limits.

With guidelines stating that men and women should drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week to reduce the risk of harm, the ‘Count 14’ campaign has been developed to demonstrate what 14 units actually means in terms of alcoholic drinks.

A unit is the best way to describe the quantity of pure alcohol in a drink.  Fourteen units is the equivalent of:

  • Six pints of medium strength beer, lager or cider (4 per cent ABV, 568ml)
  • Six medium glasses of wine (13 per cent ABV, 175ml)
  • Seven double measures of spirits (40 per cent ABV, 50ml)

The guidelines also highlight that if people do regularly drink around 14 units a week, it should be spread over three days or more – with some alcohol-free days – to reduce the risk of developing health problems.

Elaine Lawlor, NHS Forth Valley’s Lead for Drug and Alcohol Services and Coordinator of the Area Alcohol and Drug Partnership, said:

“The new campaign and website makes it easier for people to measure and keep track of how much alcohol they are drinking as well as providing very clear information on what the recommended limits are.

“People are often confused about how many units of alcohol a drink contains and how different types and measures compare.

“This campaign helps to demystify and challenge some of the common misperceptions around alcohol as well providing a very practical and helpful guide.”

Research to support the campaign highlights that less than a fifth of people (17 per cent) in Scotland currently know what the alcohol guidelines are, and half (53 per cent) agree they don’t really think about the amount of alcohol they drink.

However, 57 per cent agree that monitoring the amount of alcohol they consume is important, and over a quarter (27 per cent) stated they are looking at ways to try and cut down the amount they drink.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said:

“The guidelines are based on scientific evidence on the short and long term impacts drinking alcohol has on health.

“Regularly exceeding the recommended maximum amount can lead to serious problems, including cancer of the mouth, throat and breast.  If men and women limit their alcohol intake to no more than 14 units in a week, it keeps the risk of developing these conditions low.

“This important campaign has launched not only to make people aware of the guidance, but to help them understand what 14 units means in terms of what they drink, so they can make informed choices and reduce the risk of harm.”

For further information on the guidelines, visit count14.scot