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Why do people drink?
Thinking about when, where, and why you drink—as well as how much you drink—can help you understand how alcohol may be affecting your health. Better understanding your relationship with alcohol can also help you reduce how much you drink.
Alcohol can change the chemicals in your brain, for example making you feel relaxed or tired after drinking.
Given these effects on the brain, people drink alcohol for lots of reasons, including:
- It’s what you do with friends.
- You like the feeling.
- It’s easier to be more open with people.
- It helps you forget your worries or to relax. It has become a habit or you feel cravings or withdrawal (including headaches, anxiety, and trouble falling asleep) when you don’t drink.
Drinking too much over a long period of time can increase stress or anxiety, which can then lead to even more drinking.
How much do I drink?
What is a unit of alcohol?
Fraser Health recommends following the latest UK guidelines on how much to drink. These guidelines include an assessment of how alcohol can increase the risk of cancer.
How much alcohol you drink, is measured in “units.” One unit is 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. This amount of pure alcohol can come in different volumes depending on the type of alcoholic drink.
Different types of drinks (for example, beer, cider, wine, and spirits) contain different amounts of alcohol. Here’s a quick way to see how many units of alcohol (and calories) are in your favourite drinks: Unit and calorie calculator.
How units of alcohol affect you depends on a number of things, including:
- Your gender and age
- Your body size
- How quickly you drink
- Your mood
- How much and what type of food you have eaten
- Your past experiences with drinking
- Medications you are taking
- Your overall health
Read more about units of alcohol.