This week is Alcohol Awareness Week. This blog, written by our senior content developer and managing editor Rachel, talks about why it is important to be aware of how much you drink, and tips for cutting down.

Last month, people all over the UK took part in Macmillan’s Go Sober for October challenge, going booze-free for a month to raise money to help people with cancer.

While going teetotal may seem a little extreme for some, we all need to be aware of how much we are drinking.

The Government recommends that men and women drink no more than 14 units a week. That’s 6 pints of beer, or 6 glasses of wine. If you regularly drink 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking over 3 or more days. Try to have at least 2 alcohol-free days a week.

Keeping within these guidelines is important to protect your health. Alcohol is high in calories and can lead to weight gain. It is also linked with an increased risk of some cancers.

If you have cancer, or are recovering from cancer, it is a good idea to get some advice about drinking alcohol from your doctor or nurse.

Tips for cutting down

If you want to drink less alcohol, try these top tips:

  • Before you start drinking, quench your thirst with a non-alcoholic drink.
  • Drink slowly – have a drink of water alongside an alcoholic drink, or make every second drink non-alcoholic.
  • Eat food when you’re drinking, but avoid salty foods – these make you thirstier.
  • Try to dilute your alcoholic drinks – for example, a shandy (beer with lemonade) or a wine spritzer (wine with mineral water).
  • Choose a smaller measure – a small glass of wine is 125 ml, and a single measure of spirits is 25ml.
  • Try not to use alcohol as a stress relief.

Macmillan has more information about how to cut down your alcohol intake and maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can also order our booklets, Healthy eating and cancer or Managing weight gain after cancer treatment, which are also available as audiobooks. Healthy eating and cancer is also available in several different languages.

If you are concerned about drinking

If you are worried about how much you are drinking, it is important to get some support. You can talk to your GP, who can give you information about the support options available.

If you are worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call the free Drinkline helpline on 0300 123 1110 (Monday to Friday 9am-8pm, Saturday and Sunday 11am to 4pm).

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