Managing your alcohol intake this Christmas – what you need to know

Managing your alcohol intake this Christmas – what you need to know

The festive season is probably the time of year when drinking alcohol is most actively encouraged, whether it be at the work Christmas party, in the comfort of your own home, or at family gatherings.

However, this can also make it an extremely challenging time if you are trying to cut down on alcohol consumption, or if you want to be more mindful of your drinking habits.

In this blog, we look at how you can manage your alcohol intake this Christmas and beyond, including the recommended amounts for lower-risk alcohol consumption, and tips for cutting down on your drinking.   

Understanding how much you are drinking

Let’s start by looking at the official guidance for weekly lower-risk alcohol consumption.

According to the HSE, women should consume fewer than 11 standard drinks (110g pure alcohol) over the course of one week, with a minimum of two alcohol-free days.

Men are advised to consume fewer than 17 standard drinks (170g pure alcohol) spread out over the week. Again, aiming for a minimum of two alcohol-free days.

In Ireland, a single standard drink contains around 10 grams of pure alcohol. However, research by Drink Aware found that only 1 in 10 Irish adults were able to correctly identify standard drink measures.

The long-term impact of alcohol misuse is well documented, with physical and mental health issues such as depression, high blood pressure, problems with the immune system and liver damage all linked to heavy alcohol use.

So, if you are someone who enjoys a drink at home or during social occasions, it is important to understand how many standard drinks you are consuming in one sitting and in total throughout the week.  

The below table provides an overview of different alcoholic beverages and the standard drink equivalent for each:

Drink Number of units
40% pub measure spirits* (35.5ml)
*Gin, rum, vodka, whisky, tequila and sambuca
1 standard drink
4% Alcopop (275ml) 1 standard drink
12.5% glass of wine (100ml) 1 standard drink
14% glass of wine (100ml) 1.1 standard drinks
14.5% bottle of wine (750ml) 8.6 standard drinks
3% pint of lager (568ml) 1.3 standard drinks
7% pint of cider (568ml) 3 standard drinks
4.5% can of lager (500ml) 1.8 standard drinks
4.5% bottle of lager (330ml) 1 standard drink
11.5% glass of sparkling wine (125ml) 1 standard drink
17% glass of cream liqueur (50ml) 0.7 standard drink

Be mindful of your drinking habits

The festive season can be a difficult time for many when it comes to managing alcohol consumption. However, there are a few steps you can take to manage your alcohol intake this Christmas and into the New Year.  

In addition to keeping track of the number of drinks you have had in one sitting, and being mindful of how many standard drinks you are consuming each week, it can also be helpful to:

  • Choose smaller drinks – perhaps swapping a large glass of wine for a small glass
  • Avoid drinking every day – aim for a set number of alcohol-free days each week and stick to them  
  • Avoid having alcohol at home – having alcohol within easy reach can make limiting your consumption more difficult. Try alcohol-free options instead, like mocktails, to quench your thirst
  • Team up with a friend – it can be helpful to have support when you are trying to reduce how much you drink. Consider teaming up with a friend to reduce your alcohol intake. This can help ensure you stick to your goals

For individuals struggling with more severe alcohol addiction, reducing alcohol intake, or quitting drinking altogether can be extremely challenging, meaning that professional support is required.

Alcohol testing you can trust

With over 15 years’ experience providing accredited laboratory testing for members of the public, the legal sector, and the workplace sector, we are well placed to support you with alcohol testing to meet a range of needs.

We offer a full alcohol testing service using a variety of methods including point-of-care breath testing, blood analysis, nail clippings, hair analyses and alcohol monitoring using SCRAM CAM®.

AlphaBiolabs operates a nationwide network of specially trained clinicians, who can collect a variety of samples for testing. Alternatively, you can book an appointment to have your samples collected at our Dublin walk-in centre.

Here are a few examples of who might need an alcohol test:

  • Members of the public who require a test for official matters, such as an industrial tribunal, or private contractors who need an alcohol test before starting work
  • Legal professionals and social workers overseeing child protection cases
  • Private individuals who require a test for legal matters such as divorce proceedings or custody disputes
  • Businesses looking to introduce a substance misuse policy, or update their existing policy regarding testing requirements

For more information, contact our friendly and discreet Customer Services team on 01 402 9466 or email

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