(This article is also available as an audio recording).

As everybody is different, it is not easy to say exactly how many units in one session count as binge drinking. In the UK it is considered you are binge drinking if you consume more than:

  • 8 units of alcohol in a single session for men (e.g. 2 pints of 5% beer)
  • 6 units of alcohol in a single session for women (e.g. 5 small (125ml) glasses of 13% wine)

The impact of the binge drinking on your physical and mental health will depend on your tolerance to alcohol and the speed you consume it at. Binge drinking can lead to:

  • Accidents resulting in injury, which means you may have to take time off work.
  • Misjudging risky situations – again, thinking about safety of yourselves and the people around you.
  • Losing self-control and taking part in risky behaviours like having unprotected sex.

How does alcohol affect me?

After just one medium glass of wine (just over 2 units), you will start to feel relaxed, you feel more confident and you become more talkative. At this point, your driving ability is already impaired, which is why it’s best to drink no alcohol if you’re driving.

After your second glass of wine (just over 4 units), your blood flow increases, you start dehydrating and your attention span is shorter.

After your third glass of wine (just over 6 units), your reaction time is slower, your liver is pushing harder and your sex drive may increase, whilst your judgement may decrease.

And after four glasses of wine (just over 9 units), you’re noticeably emotional and may become easily confused.

Now think about a time you have been out with work colleagues or friends and had some alcohol, how much of your time out can you actually remember?

How can I reduce my risk from binge drinking?

Next time you’re drinking, remember the following key points:

  • Limit how much you drink on any single occasion
  • Try to eat when you are drinking
  • Alternate your alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks such as water or juice
  • Make sure you have planned ahead and are not working or driving soon after a heavy drinking session

You can be at risk from others and can easily lose control of what you do or say and may make risky decisions. Keeping track of your drinking, especially when in unfamiliar circumstances is so important.

Am I a binge drinker?

Even If you don’t drink alcohol every day, you could be a binge drinker if you:

  • Regularly drink more than the low risk drinking guidelines in a single session
  • Tend to drink quickly
  • Sometimes drink to get drunk

If you find it hard to stop drinking once you have started, you could also have a problem with binge drinking and possibly alcohol dependence.

If you are participating in Dry January, or would like to hear some tips about reducing alcohol intake, listen to this recording by our Drug and Alcohol Practitioner Stefani.


Updated on: 20/04/2022