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New government alcohol unit guidelines

The guidelines
*We will be updating all of our website and tools to reflect the new alcohol guidance announced on 8 January 2016.*
New alcohol guidelines
The alcohol limit for men has been lowered to be the same as for women. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) guideline for both men and women is that:


  • You are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week. This is to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level
  • If you do drink as much as 14 units week it is best to spread this evenly across the week


Domestic Abuse Unit

028 9025 9463 “Key role in carrying out rigorous risk assessment, risk management and investigation of domestic abuse. NB Cases requiring immediate investigation will be dealt with in accordance with Service Policy by the most appropriate resource in uniform, CID or Crime Operations.

Domestic Abuse is Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (Psychological, physical, verbal, sexual, financial or emotional) inflicted on one person by another where they are or have been intimate partners or family members, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation” Domestic/Sexual Abuse

Northern Ireland's drinking culture

Unfortunately it has widely been acknowledged that Northern Ireland has a serious ‘alcohol problem’, in terms of consumption levels, health issues and the wider social impact on individuals, families and communities.

There were 270 (Provisional figure) deaths in 2012 and the toll has risen by around 50% over the last decade. The largest number of deaths happened in those aged 45-54 and the most deprived were most likely to die.

In recent years a real financial cost figure placed on the impact of alcohol ranges from £750 – £900 million p.a. that converts to around one tenth of the entire block grant from Westminster.

There are multiple factors which have altered the impact of alcohol on society over the past 20 years, the availability and affordability of alcohol, increased disposable income and the targeting of alcohol companies with marketing and advertising strategies.

The price changes and promotional nights held by many Bars and Alcohol companies have assisted in fuelling the binge culture which is prevalent in society today. Going out for a ‘session’ with friends or ‘pre-loading’ before going out are terms now common in current alcohol culture, with many drinkers still unaware of the unit and calorie content of a nights consumption.

The most common drinks consumed are wine (48%) and beer (47%) , coincidently the 2 types of drinks advertised most by alcohol companies.

Millions are spent on prime time television, whether it be half-time beer advertisments in the Champions League, or wine companies sponsoring the ‘The Good Wife’  and ‘Friends’, alcohol companies are targeting specific groups of people with specific products to enhance sales and trigger the thoughts of alcohol consumption.

Drinking Behaviour

The following results are based on those respondents who drank alcohol in the week prior to the survey. (Taken from Adult drinking Patterns Survey NISRA, conducted on behalf of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, examines the amount people drink, when, where and what they drink and who they drink with).

Drinking Levels

Weekly guidelines for sensible drinking:

Drinking Levels

Frequency of Drinking

Drinking Levels


Intervention and Treatment

Alcohol Clinics

These offer opportunities to look at individual drinking and make personal decisions that suit personal circumstances. Clinics offer advice and support to help cut down or stop drinking.

Counselling and Treatment
This part of our service is for when individuals could benefit from either a brief period of support and information or individuals may require a personal tailored counselling and support programme of up to 12 weeks.

Family Support
Living with someone misusing alcohol can make life very stressful. This service is for those affected by another person’s alcohol misuse. The person misusing alcohol does not need to be seeking help with their drinking to make use of this service.

What is a unit of alcohol?

This fun animation explains what a unit of alcohol equals in drinks. It also shows how sticking within the daily unit guidelines could help improve your health and lifestyle.

150 size

Alcohol in the workplace

Drink, Work & Me is an employer-led, pioneering project aimed at raising awareness of alcohol related harm.
With a focus on wellbeing and lifestyle improvement, this is the first time that employers and training providers will offer a gateway to raise awareness across society as a whole and, ultimately, reach those in greatest need of support.

Why alcohol? 

Alcohol misuse is the third biggest cause of death in Northern Ireland with related deaths and is the biggest risk factor for cancer after smoking. It is the third biggest cause of death in Northern Ireland, costing society in the region of £800 million a year.

Why the workplace?
The heaviest drinkers tend to be concentrated in those of working age. At work, it is estimated that around 200, 000 people come in with a hangover every day – a huge health, safety and wellbeing issue.