Alcohol Misuse

August 2018

Alcohol misuse means drinking excessively – more than the lower-risk limits of alcohol consumption.

Alcohol consumption is measured in units. A unit of alcohol is 10ml of pure alcohol, which is about:

  • half a pint of normal-strength lager

  • a single measure (25ml) of spirits


A small glass (125ml) of wine contains about 1.5 units of alcohol.

Lower-risk limits

To keep your risk of alcohol-related harm low, the NHS recommends:

  • not regularly drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week

  • if you drink as much as 14 units a week, it's best to spread this evenly over three or more days

  • if you're trying to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, it's a good idea to have several alcohol-free days each week


Regular or frequent drinking means drinking alcohol most weeks. The risk to your health is increased by drinking any amount of alcohol on a regular basis.

Persistent alcohol misuse increases your risk of serious health conditions, including:

  • heart disease

  • stroke

  • liver disease

  • liver cancer and bowel cancer

  • mouth cancer 

  • pancreatitis 


If someone loses control over their drinking and has an excessive desire to drink, it's known as dependent drinking (alcoholism).

Dependent drinking usually affects a person's quality of life and relationships, but they may not always find it easy to see or accept this. 

Severely dependent drinkers are often able to tolerate very high levels of alcohol in amounts that would dangerously affect or even kill some people.

A dependent drinker usually experiences physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly cut down or stop drinking, including:

  • hand tremors – "the shakes"

  • sweating

  • seeing things that aren't real (visual hallucinations)

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)


This often leads to "relief drinking" to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Am I drinking too much?

You could be misusing alcohol if:

  • you feel you should cut down on your drinking

  • other people have been criticising your drinking

  • you feel guilty or bad about your drinking

  • you need a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover


Someone you know may be misusing alcohol if:

  • they regularly exceed the lower-risk daily limit for alcohol

  • they're sometimes unable to remember what happened the night before because of their drinking

  • they fail to do what was expected of them as a result of their drinking – for example, missing an appointment or work because of being drunk or hungover

Getting help


If you're concerned about your drinking or someone else's, a good first step is to visit your GP.


They'll be able to discuss the services and treatments available. 

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Angels Nursing Group

Tel:   (0034) 902 02 64 68/647 407 455

Angels Nursing Group S.L, Los Carasoles 27, Zurgena, 04650, Almeria - C.I.F B04762712