Stay healthy, stay safe

This is an important time to be looking after ourselves, both mentally and physically. And that includes not drinking too much alcohol.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful time, with the loss of established routines, children at home, and worries over the health of ourselves and our loved ones.

However, using alcohol is never a good way to cope. The Chief Medical Officer recommend   that 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.


Alcohol can not only make us feel worse but put our health at risk:

Your immune system – the World Health Organisation states that:

Your health

Your mental health - according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, regularly drinking alcohol affects the chemistry of the brain and can increase the risk of depression. Increased consumption can also affect our sleep, make us feel more tired and sluggish, and trap people in a cycle of feeling low and more anxious. People who have done Dry January often talk about feeling more positive and alert. Read this blog by consultant psychiatrist Dr Eilish Gilvarry.

Your weight: alcohol and mixer drinks contains lots of calories. The calorie equivalent of a large glass of white wine is the same as a slice of pizza or a cocktail is the equivalent of a cheeseburger. Being overweight is a risk factor for causing diabetes.

For those of us who are watching our weight, reducing how much alcohol we drink is a good way to better manage the number of calories we consume.

Research has shown that many people aren’t sure about the number of calories in their drinks. A survey of over 2,000 UK adults in 2014 showed that over 80% of people did not know or underestimated the number of calories in a large glass of wine, and over 60% of people did not know or underestimated the number of calories in a pint of lager.

Two standard glasses of wine or 330ml bottles of lager have around 300 calories – the same as a burger or a half hour backstroke swim. Being overweight is a major risk major risk factor for causing diabetes.

This situation is not helped by the fact that many alcohol producers do not list on their packaging the number of calories contained within their drinks.

What can I do?

Staying within 14 units a week is the best thing we can all do to keep our risks from alcohol low to stay healthy right now.

But what is 14 units?


Fourteen units means around six pints of regular strength beer or lager, six standard glasses of wine or seven double measures of spirits.

Our tips.

  1. Try not to stockpile alcohol. Limit the amount of alcohol you buy in and opt for non-alcoholic drinks to help you stay within the 14 unit low-risk weekly guidelines. To find out more visit
  2. Having at least three drink-free days every week is a great way to cut down on how much you’re drinking. Visit to download the free Drink Free Days app.
  3. With schools closed, think about being a good role model to your kids around alcohol, which includes how often and how much you drink alcohol. None of us want to teach our children that it’s normal to drink every night or to start each day at 4pm.
  4. You can track your units, calories and money saved when you cut down or cut out alcohol through the Try Dry app from Alcohol Change.
  5. Use a measure to pour your drinks – home-poured measures are often a lot more generous than those you’d get in the pub and contain more units and calories than a standard measure.
  6. If you feel like you should cut down, you’re in good company. An estimated 650,000 North East drinkers have cut down or stopped drinking alcohol during lockdown.
  7. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, it can be tempting to turn to alcohol to help you relax. But here are some top ways to unwind from Alcohol Change UK that don’t involve alcohol
  8. When it comes to alcohol and young people, parents often find it confusing to know what to do for the best. The safest option is to follow the Chief Medical Officer guidelines that it is safest and healthiest for children to not drink before the age of 18. For advice every parent needs to know visit
  9. Finally, if you are concerned about your own drinking or someone else’s, call the national alcohol helpline Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm). 

Further information

World Health Organisation: Alcohol and COVID-19: what you need to know

Alcohol Change - Alcohol and coronavirus information hub  

Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you're worried about your own or someone else's drinking, you can call this free helpline in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm).  



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The free One You Drink Free Days app is a simple and easy way to track the days you drink alcohol and the days you don't.

Feel healthier, lose weight and save money – simply nominate days to take off drinking and get practical, daily support to help you stick to it.