UCL Human Resources


Alcohol use and misuse

On this page:

Guidelines and impact

The UK’s Chief Medical Officer's guidelines recommend drinking no more than 14 units per week and to spread your drinking over three or more days.  

Alcohol intake can impact your mental health as well as your physical health.  

The impact on your mental health can include feelings of: 

  • Anxiety  
  • Anger  
  • Depression  

The physical impact can include:  

  • Sleep problems 
  • Bloating  
  • Migraines  
  • Weight gain  

These are short-term effects. Long-term alcohol misuse increases the risk of heart disease, liver disease and cancer.  

It can also impact your relationships, employment and finances. 

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How much is too much? 

The NHS advise that there is no safe drinking level.  

The low-risk guidelines recommend drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week to keep health risks to a low level. 

Low Risk Drinking Guidelines
  • Use this unit calculator to find out how many units are in a particular drink, or to check how much you’re drinking. 
  • Watch this video to learn what a unit of alcohol is.  

Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with alcohol. Use these interactive tools, or watch the recorded webinars delivered by Alcohol Concern UK.  

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Cutting down 

Cutting down the amount you drink can be challenging, but the benefits of doing so are noticeable and widespread, including: 

  • feeling better in the mornings 
  • being less tired 
  • having more energy 
  • better-looking skin 
  • saving money 

Long-term benefits include: 

  • lower blood pressure 
  • lower risk of stroke, hypertension, cancer and liver disease 
  • lower cholesterol levels 
  • better mood, memory and quality of sleep 
  • help with weight management 

Read Better Health’s recommendations on drinking less including 8 practical steps to help you cut down. 

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Apps to support you

Try Dry: Dry January and beyond - track the days you stay dry, choose to drink and how many units you consume. An easy-to-use, visual app that celebrates your achievements. You can also log your mood to help you notice the impact of cutting down your alcohol intake.  

Drink free days - a simple way to cut down on your drinking is by picking your days to go drink-free. Use this app to track your drink-free days. Get practical tips to help you control your drinking and achieve your targets. 

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Specialist support for alcohol use

Specialist support is available if you need help to reduce your alcohol intake. You may feel you need this if you:  

  • often feel the need to have a drink  
  • are unable to control how much you drink 
  • get into trouble because of your drinking  
  • other people warn you about how much you're drinking  
  • think your drinking is causing you problems  

If you have become physically dependent on alcohol, stopping suddenly could be harmful to your health. You should speak to your GP to help you reduce your alcohol intake safely, or, find a local addiction support service.  

Contact a helpline if you need to talk to someone about yours or someone you know alcohol intake and the impact of this.   

You can read about finding the right support service on the Drinkaware website. 

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