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Dumfries and Galloway Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP)


Count 14

It’s recommended that you don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread out over at least 3 days, to keep the risks from alcohol low. This is the same for both men and women.


14 units is the equivalent of:


  • 6 pints of beer
  • a bottle and a half of wine
  • half a bottle of spirits

It is best to spread this evenly across the week rather than drinking all at once. Having several alcohol-free days each week is a good way to cut down.

Tips for cutting down

  • Have food before and during drinking
  • Drink plenty of water in between alcohol drinks
  • Watch out for bigger measures poured at home
  • Check the strength of your drink - brands can vary dramatically
  • Choose a low or alcohol-free option instead
  • Set a budget for a night out and stick to it
  • Have several alcohol-free days each week

What is a unit?

A unit is 10ml of pure alcohol.

You can work out how many units are in any drink. Multiply the volume (in ml) by the % abv (strength) then divide by 1000.

For example, a 750ml bottle of wine which is 13% abv would be:

750 x 13 = 9,750/1000 = 9.75 units

Or use this handy drinks calculator:

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning can happen when you drink alcohol quicker than your body can process it. It can make you seriously ill and you may need to go to hospital for treatment.

  • Confusion
  • Slurring words or being unable to speak
  • Being unable to coordinate movement, for example being unable to stand, walk or pick things up
  • Being sick
  • Urinating or defecating yourself
  • Pale or blue tinged skin. On black or brown skin this may be easier to see inside the lips, on the gums and under the fingernails.
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Having a seizure or fit
  • Loss of consciousness

If you believe someone has alcohol poisoning all 999 immediately.


Things you can do to help someone who has drank to much alcohol


  • Stay with them because there is a risk they could choke on their own sick or stop breathing
  • Sit them up if they’re awake, or put them in the recovery position if they’ve passed out and check they’re breathing properly
  • Give them water to sip if they’re able to swallow it
  • Keep them warm with a jacket or blanket


  • Do not let them drink more alcohol
  • Do not give them coffee or drinks containing caffeine because this can dehydrate people with alcohol poisoning
  • Do not put them in a cold shower or bath because there’s a risk they could get too cold, fall or lose consciousness in the water

Recognising Alcohol Withdrawal

Heavy drinkers who suddenly decrease or stop drinking altogether may experience withdrawal symptoms. They are potentially dangerous and should be treated as a serious warning sign that you are drinking too much.

Withdrawal symptoms are part of a condition called ‘alcohol withdrawal syndrome’, which is a reaction caused when someone who has become dependent on alcohol stops drinking it.

The more you drink on a regular basis, the more you’re likely to be affected by withdrawal symptoms. To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, the UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) advise it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.

If you are concerned you might be dependent on alcohol, you should seek medical advice to help you cut down and stop your drinking safely.

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can be physical and psychological, and range in severity from mild to severe.

Typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include:

  • Hand tremors (the shakes)
  • Sweating
  • A pulse rate above 100 beats per minute
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)

Milder symptoms usually start within eight to 24 hours from the last alcoholic drink.

Severe symptoms can additionally include hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t real), as well as seizures or delirium tremens (‘DTs’).

Delirium tremens is a severe indication of alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms include:


  • Severe disorientation
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure and breathing problems
  • Uncontrollable restless behaviour

Severe withdrawal effects can be life threatening.

Approximately one in 10 people with alcohol withdrawal syndrome are affected by seizures. If left untreated, up to one in three of these patients go on to experience delirium tremens.

If you (or someone you’re looking after) experience repeated vomiting, severe shaking or hallucinations, seek medical attention.

Seeking Help

If you think you are dependent on alcohol or are looking for support to reduce and stop your drinking, it is important to seek help. 


NHS Specialist Drug and Alcohol Service
Lochfield Road Primary Care Centre,
12 Lochfield Road, Dumfries. DG2 9BH
t. 01387 244555

We Are With You
79 Buccleuch Street, Dumfries. DG1 2AB
t. 0800 035 0793

Alcohol and Drug Support South West Scotland
79 Buccleuch St, Dumfries DG1 2AB
t. 01387 259999

225 King St, Castle Douglas DG7 1DT
t. 01556 503550

32 Charlotte St, Stranraer DG9 7EF
t. 01556 503550

Alcohol and Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, drinking alcohol can seriously affect you and your baby’s health. Sometimes this can be lifelong.

How alcohol can harm your baby

There’s no known safe limit of drinking during pregnancy.

Some people will tell you that having the odd drink when you’re pregnant is okay.

The safest option is to stop drinking when you’re trying to get pregnant or as soon as you know you’re pregnant.

Your baby’s developing all the way through your pregnancy. Alcohol can be harmful at any stage.

Drinking alcohol:

  • Damages your baby's developing cells which can affect how their brain and organs develop and how they look
  • Makes it more likely you'll have a miscarriage, or your baby will be born early or underweight
  • Can cause foetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

If you drink while pregnant your baby could develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). This is a term used to describe a range of alcohol-related birth defects.

About 3 in every 100 children and young people in the UK have FASD, but it’s preventable by avoiding alcohol when pregnant or planning a pregnancy.

FASD may not always be detected at birth but can cause problems later in life, including:

  • Problems with hyperactivity, impulsivity, and attention
  • Learning and behavioural difficulties
  • Experiencing difficulty in social interaction, personal care, making sense of the world, and staying safe
  • Sensory difficulties such as being sensitive to, and distressed by, certain patterns of light, sound, or touch
  • Vulnerability to victimisation and bullying