How much alcohol is too much? It depends where you live

alcohol units guidelines

International guidelines on safe alcohol consumption vary wildly.

According to a new report published in the Drug and Alcohol Review, there is little international consensus on alcohol consumption guidelines or on what constitutes harmful or excessive amounts of alcohol. The same report also states there is no agreement on the recommended amounts for men and women.

There is considerable evidence of the risks of excessive alcohol consumption and binge drinking. However, depending on where you live, the recommended guidelines will vary. The World Health Organisation (WHO) goal of a global consensus on a “standard drink” definition and consumption guidelines is still some way off.

The report, covering 57 countries, revealed wide variations in the measurement of a unit of alcohol and the prevalence of weekly consumption guidelines. The data shows the majority of countries provide daily recommendations on the number of units men and women should drink, but weekly guidelines are less common.

There is a wide variety in the measurements of a “standard drink” or “unit of alcohol”, from 8g of ethanol in the UK to a maximum of 14g in Slovakia. One thing was consistent across all countries, the recommended consumption for men is higher than for women.

The average measurement for a unit is 10g of alcohol, with the daily recommended amount for a man being 3 units and 2 units for a woman.

Researchers claim inconsistencies in safe drinking levels make it “difficult for individuals to evaluate and monitor their own alcohol consumption”.