Cut down on alcohol, have more drink-free days

Current guidelines from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers recommend that adults – both men and women – should not regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week if they want to keep their drinking at a safe level. However, according to a YouGov poll, one in five is drinking more than this amount.

To help people reduce their health risks from alcohol, Public Health England (PHE) and the alcohol education charity Drinkaware have launched a new campaign called Drink Free Days. As its name suggests, the campaign aims to encourage drinkers to take more days off from drinking.

“Many of us enjoy a drink,” says Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England. “But whether it’s a few in the pub after work a couple of times a week, some beers on the sofa watching the football or regular wine with our dinner, it’s all too easy to let our drinking creep up on us.”

The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing a number of serious health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as several types of cancer. Drinking regularly also means you’re consuming more calories, which can make you gain weight and increase your risk of obesity.

“While the link with liver disease is well known, many people are not aware that alcohol can cause numerous other serious problems,” explains Selbie. “About 10 million people in England are drinking in ways that increases the risks and many are struggling to cut down. Setting yourself a target of having more drink-free days every week is an easy way to drink less and reduce the risks to your health.”

Keeping it simple

According to PHE there’s evidence that simple and easy ways of helping people to change their behaviour are the most effective. The campaign’s own research suggests people see the idea of having more drink-free days as easy to follow, positive and achievable.

“The more you drink, the greater the risk to your health – it’s really that simple,” says Elaine Hindal, chief executive at Drinkaware.

“But an increasing number of people – particularly middle-aged drinkers – are drinking in ways that are putting them at risk of seriously and potentially life-limiting conditions. Having a few drink-free days each week will help reduce the risks to your health and improve your wellbeing.”

Former England and Liverpool footballer John Barnes is also supporting the campaign. “This is an important campaign highlighting how many of us don’t realise that we are drinking in ways that could be harming our health and how we are struggling to moderate,” he says.

“A beer here and a glass of wine there might not seem like much, but the units can add up and so too can the health risks. Having a few more days a week that are drink free is a great way of taking control of our drinking and making healthier choices in the future.”

The Drink Free Days campaign provides ways of helping you to cut back and make better choices about your drinking. There’s a dedicated website with all the information and resources you need, including Drinkaware’s Drink Compare calculator and the Drink Free Days app.

Find out more by visiting

If you’re concerned about how much you’re drinking, why not have a chat with your local Careway pharmacist, who can give you lots of tips on other ways to reduce your alcohol intake.

Find your nearest participating Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.