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Adults and older people

Sensible drinking for adults and older people

Information about the sensible drinking of alcohol for adults and older people.

Alcohol and adults: the facts

Alcohol Neilston Project Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Like many of the things we enjoy most in life, alcohol is best consumed in moderation. So while there's nothing wrong with an occasional drink, we should all stick within the recommended limits. Too much alcohol damages health in both the short and long term. As we get older our ability to handle alcohol diminishes and therefore the guidelines have been adapted for older adults.

No one can say that drinking alcohol is absolutely safe, but by keeping within the guidelines there's a lower risk of causing harm in most circumstances.

You're advised to:

  • Drink no more than 3 - 4 units per day if you're male.
  • Drink no more than  2 - 3 units per day if you're female.
  • Drink no more than 1.5 units per day if you are over 64.
  • Not to drink alcohol if you are underage, there are no safe drinking limits for people under 18.
  • Have at least two alcohol free days each week.

How many units are you drinking?

It's not as simple as one drink = one unit; it's the strength and size that determines how many units a drink has. It's also worth considering the calories too. To calculate your consumption, visit:

Key messages if you are drinking

  • Stick to recommended safe drinking limits.
  • Take smaller sips.
  • Space your alcoholic drinks with non alcoholic ones.
  • Dilute alcoholic drinks with non alcoholic ones.
  • If you're a mum-to-be or you're trying to conceive, it's best to stay clear of alcohol as there are risks to yourself and unborn child.

Drinking and driving

A new law came into force in 2014 which makes the legal drink-drive limit in Scotland lower than elsewhere in the UK. The change reduces the legal alcohol limit from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood.

Support: When drink is a problem

If you're worried about your own, or someone else's drinking and would like some help contact your GP, other health professional or Community Addiction Team.

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