Units and how they work

A unit is a measurement of alcohol – just like an inch is a measurement of distance. Knowing how many units of alcohol are in a drink helps us to measure how much alcohol we’re putting into our bodies when we drink that drink. A can of Fosters lager has 2 units; a can of Strongbow cider has 2.6 units; half a bottle of vodka has 20 units.

A ‘recommended limit’ is what medical experts believe is an amount of units of alcohol that you can drink without harming your body. The recommended alcohol limit for an adult woman to drink in any one day is 2-3 units, and the recommended limit for an adult man is 3-4 units.

There is no recommended limit for young people. This is because their bodies are not yet fully developed, and their organs can’t yet deal with alcohol as well as adult, fully-grown organs can. (For further information, see the Alcohol Harm Reduction page.) The recommended unit limit for young people is ‘no alcohol before you’re 18’!

However, young people do use alcohol. For information on how to reduce the risk of alcohol harms, go to our Alcohol harm reduction page.