United Kingdom

Alcohol units

In the UK, 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.

The number of units in a drink is based on the size of the drink, as well as its alcohol strength.

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 (measured as a percentage) and dividing the result by 1,000.

*strength (ABV) x volume (ml) รท 1,000 = units*

Some examples of the number of units in various drinks:

  • A single small measure of spirits (25ml, ABV 40%): 1 unit
  • An alcopop (275ml, ABV 5.5%): 1.5 units
  • Pint of lower-strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 3.6%): 2 units
  • Pint of higher-strength lager/beer/cider (ABV 5.2%): 3 units
  • Standard glass of wine (175ml, ABV 12%): 2.1 units

Low-risk drinking guidelines

The UK Chief Medical Officers’ low risk drinking guidelines for both men and women state:

  • To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
  • If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over 3 or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risks of death from long term illness and from accidents and injuries.
  • The risk of developing a range of health problems (including cancers of the mouth, throat and breast) increases the more you drink on a regular basis.
  • If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.

Further information

For more information on alcohol use in the United Kingdom, consult: