What is considered a safe level of weekly drinking?

Health Service Executive recommends safe drinking levels

Low risk weekly guidelines for adults are: up to 11 standard drinks in a week for women, and up to 17 standard drinks in a week for men.

Drinks should be spaced out over the week, not consumed in one sitting. Drinking more than the safe levels may cause harm. Remember, drinks measures are not always the same. What you get in a pub and what you pour for yourself could be very different.

These weekly limits do not apply to teenagers or to people who are pregnant, ill, run-down or on medication. It is healthier for teenagers not to drink alcohol.



What is a standard drink? In Ireland, a standard drink has about 10 grams of pure alcohol in it. In the UK a standard drink, also called a unit of alcohol, has about 8 grams of pure alcohol. Here are some examples of a standard drink.

  • A pub measure of spirits (35.5ml)
  • A small glass of wine (12.5 per cent volume)
  • A half pint of normal beer
  • An alcopop (275ml bottle)
  • A bottle of wine at 12.5 per cent alcohol contains about seven standard drinks.

What is a binge? Binge drinking is when we have 6 or more standard drinks in one sitting. Binge drinking is likely to increase our risk of accidents, injuries, violence and poisoning. Having more than 5 standard drinks at a time can seriously increase the harmful effects of drinking.

How long do the effects of drinking last? In general you start to feel the effects of alcohol within 5 or 10 minutes of drinking. It then takes about one hour for every standard drink you take to work through your system.

Source: Health Service Executive

Dr. Barbara Kearns Comment:

We all need to be aware of the lower recommended alcohol limits advised especially over the summer months.