One of the most important ways to lead change is through thinking about the effects of drinking culture in Britain.

Drinking culture isn’t just about one group of people or behaviours – it’s about how we think about alcohol, how much and how frequently we drink, and where we drink it.

Research published by Alcohol Concern suggests that “high-risk” drinking can occur in many environments, including if you drink at home or in the houses of other people. However, if drinking after work or sharing a bottle of wine with your evening meal becomes a regular part of your routine, you could be drinking to harmful levels.

  • Even if you don’t notice it day-to-day, you might be surprised by how much your routine drinking adds up to at the end of a week. For example, a standard 750ml bottle of red, white or rosé wine (13.5% ABV) can contain up to 10 alcohol units – that’s almost your full unit guideline for a week (14 units) in one go!
  • If you’re drinking one bottle five days per week, you could be drinking almost four times the safe recommended limit.
  • To try and cut down on your alcohol intake, try to swap your ordinary routine for a new hobby or activity – go to the gym after work or unwind with some soft drinks, rather than alcohol.

Resisting peer pressure

Peer pressure (and wider drinking culture) can be a significant factor in encouraging some of us to drink more often than we might otherwise. Young people can face significant pressure to drink alcohol, particularly on nights out, or on birthdays and celebrations. This kind of pressure can be experienced by all age groups – whether it’s being ‘expected’ to buy the next round of drinks or feeling that you need to ‘explain’ why you might not be drinking.

Remember – drinking alcohol (or choosing not to drink) is a personal choice, and you are free to make the decision that works best for you. If you’re heading on a night out, don’t be afraid to order soft drinks or alternate alcohol with water. You’ll save money, feel better in the morning and protect your long-term health.

Alcohol and pregnancy

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it’s safest to avoid alcohol. Although guidance has changed in recent years, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) recommends that an alcohol-free pregnancy is the best way to avoid putting your baby at risk. Find out more about potential risks of drinking during pregnancy.

If you are pregnant but have drunk a small amount already during your pregnancy, the risk of harm to your baby is low. However, if you need support and advice, you can speak to Spectrum’s sexual health services confidentially.