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Mental Health

Alcohol, Drugs and Substance Misuse


Enjoying a drink

Lots of adults enjoy drinking alcohol from time to time, but drinking too much can be very damaging to your short and long term health. It’s important to understand how alcohol can affect our health and well being, and know how much it is safe to drink.

There is no guaranteed safe level of drinking, but if you drink less than the recommended daily limits, the risks of damaging your health are low.

The effects of alcohol on your health will depend on how much you drink; the more you drink, the greater the health risks.

Sensible drinking guidelines

Official guidelines recommend that men shouldn’t regularly drink more than three to four units a day and women shouldn’t regularly drink more than two to three units a day because of the harm this may cause.

Guidelines also state that you should have at least two alcohol-free days each week, and recommend that after an episode of heavy drinking, it’s advisable to refrain from drinking for 48 hours to allow the tissues in your body to recover.

What is a unit?

One alcohol unit is measured as 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. The number of units in a drink is determined by the size and strength of the drink.

Unfortunately, it's not as simple as one drink, one unit, and the alcoholic content in the same types of drinks can vary a lot.

More information on how to calculate units on the NHS Choices website. (Opens in a new window)

Recreational Drug use

The term ‘using drugs’, is often referred to as substance misuse and, when we think about the word drugs we often think about

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Cannabis
  • Ecstasy

We also think of drugs such as spice which is often mentioned in the media.

However, there are other drugs that we may come across more often such as prescription medications that can also be abused like -

  • Painkillers
  • Sleeping tablets
  • Medicines for the treatment of anxiety and depression

It is important that you are aware of the impact drugs may have on your body, both in the short term and what the likelihood will be with prolonged drug taking.

One of the most common features with regular drug taking is addiction. This is where your body gets so used to having the drug in its system that it starts to rely on that substance in order to function. This can cause a lot of long term health issues which in some circumstances can result in illness and even death.

Talk to Frank

Frank offers free, friendly practical confidential advice around drugs. Their online website has an A - Z of different types of drugs and the effects they can have on a person. You can check current news stories and you can learn about people’s experiences.

Visit the Frank website to find out more (Opens in a new window)

You can contact Frank by –

  • using the online chat (between 2pm and 6pm everyday of the week)
  • telephone: 03001 236 600 (24 hours a day 365 days a year)
  • text: 82111
  • Frank’s online contact form (Opens in a new window)
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