Safer drinking

As lockdown restrictions gradually ease in England, pubs and outdoor hospitality venues have re-opened for outdoor service. Although you might be looking forward to socialising outdoors and being able to spend more time with your friends and family, it’s important to drink safely and keep an eye on your alcohol intake. Here are some simple steps to help you stay safe when you’re drinking outdoors:

  • If you’re heading out to a pub or bar, plan your transport in advance or appoint a designated driver. Never be tempted to drink and drive, and do not get in a car with a driver who has been drinking. You do not have to feel or appear ‘drunk’ to be over the limit – read about alcohol and the law.
  • Try to keep track of how much you are drinking. You can do this by planning a ‘drinks budget’ or using tips and trackers. Take a look at DrinkAware’s free tools and trackers to help you do this on the move.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with soft drinks or water
  • Drink slowly – don’t rush to drink as much as you can in one session
  • Avoid binge-drinking

Avoid bingeing

‘Binge drinking’ usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time, or ‘drinking to get drunk’. It’s not easy to officially define but researchers understand bingeing as consuming more than eight units of alcohol in a single session. That’s just over three pints of 4% strength beer. Binge drinking is slightly different from other kinds of alcohol misuse but it’s just as harmful. Many people who occasionally binge – either at home or with others – self-describe as “social drinkers” and do not think they have a problem with alcohol. But whether you’re drinking more at home or enjoying a post-lockdown pint, it’s always beneficial to keep track of your drinking. If you want to know whether your drinking to safe levels, try the Drinkaware Self-Assessment tool.

To reduce your risk of binge-drinking:

  • Spread your alcohol units evenly throughout the week – don’t save them up and binge at the weekend
  • If you’re drinking with friends, don’t give in to peer pressure – only drink as much as you choose to
  • Drink more slowly, alternate drinks with water and drink with food
  • Avoid risky places and activities; make sure you are with people that you know and that you know how to get home safely

Health risks

Drinking too much, too quickly on a single occasion can increase your risk of:

  • alcohol-related accidents and injuries, including falls
  • misjudging risky situations
  • losing self-control, like having unprotected sex
  • leave you vulnerable and impair your ability to make decisions
  • becoming involved in an aggressive incident
  • becoming less able to look after yourself or others
  • becoming confused and disorientated very quickly