The risks of drinking too much

Alcohol is a toxic chemical which can have a wide range of adverse effects on almost every part of your body.

The effects of alcohol can vary. Sometimes you may:

  • feel the effects almost instantly
  • have a few drinks before you feel any effect

Many things can affect the impact alcohol has on you, including:

  • what you have eaten
  • what mood you are in
  • how much sleep you have had.

This is an important reason for you to know and understand how many units you have consumed.

Don't risk your health

Drinking more than the low-risk guidelines on a regular basis increases your risk of serious health conditions.

Regular or frequent drinking means having alcohol most weeks and the more you drink the higher the risks to your health.

Serious risks include:

Binge drinking

Drinking a lot of alcohol in a single occasion, sometimes called ‘binge drinking’, is especially harmful and can increase your risk of:

  • accidents resulting in injury or death
  • misjudging risky situations
  • losing your inhibitions and increased risk-taking/making decisions you usually would not
  • becoming a victim or a perpetrator of crime
  • self-harm and suicide

To reduce your health risks on any single occasion:

  • limit how much you drink
  • drink more slowly
  • drink with food
  • alternate alcoholic drinks with water or non-alcoholic drinks

Drinking too much alcohol could also contribute to social problems such as:

  • unemployment
  • relationship breakdown
  • domestic abuse
  • homelessness

Still not sure about units? Try the Scottish Government's alcohol unit generator and alcohol unit calculator.