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Alcohol misuse is a major threat to public health in Wales. It has been identified as a causal factor in more than 200 medical conditions.

Alcohol drinking guidelines

There is no safe limit for drinking alcohol. Drinking even low amounts of alcohol increases the risk of diseases like cancer.

To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis. 

If you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread your drinking evenly over 3 or more days. If you have one or two heavy drinking episodes a week, you increase your risks of death from long term illness and from accidents and injuries.

The risk of developing a range of health problems increases the more you drink on a regular basis.

If you wish to cut down the amount you drink, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.

Why is alcohol a problem in Wales?

45% of men and 34% of women report drinking above the recommended guidelines. Alcohol is the cause of around 1,500 deaths a year, on top of a cost of more than £1 billion of harm to society.

Alcohol related deaths are higher in the most deprived areas of Wales.

Growing up in families where alcohol or substance misuse is a problem can have negative impacts which persist long into adulthood.

14% of adults have been exposed to alcohol misuse during childhood. Reducing Adverse Childhood Experiences can reduce levels of harmful drinking by 35%.

What is being done to tackle alcohol misuse in Wales?

We want Wales to have an environment and society in which healthy choices are the easy choices.

By 2030 we will have changed social norms about the acceptability of a range of health harming behaviours.

To reduce alcohol-related deaths, the Welsh Government will introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol in Wales in 2019.

This will reduce alcohol consumption among the lowest income group by 6% and reduces mortality among the heavy drinkers in routine/manual occupations by 8%. (Making a Difference)

In Wales, a coordinated approach has been developed... Making Every Contact Count is a conversation designed to address health harm behaviours, especially during interaction between the public and NHS Wales staff.

  • North Wales Public Health Team
  • Policy, Research and International Development Directorate
  • Health Protection
  • Making Every Contact Count