Men are at risk from alcohol too

Irish men drink more than women. Men who drink above the recommended weekly limits are vulnerable to a range of health problems including heart and liver disease and cancers such stomach, throat, kidney, oesophageal, bowel cancer.

Reducing the risk

Men are advised to drink no more than 21 standard drinks a week, with no more than three standard drinks a day, if they want to keep their risk of developing alcohol-related health problems low. It is also important to have at least two days a week free from alcohol.

The low-risk guidelines apply to healthy, adult men in the 18-65 age range. They do not apply to all men. If you are a younger or older man, you will need to drink less to stay within the low-risk range. And there are times men are advised not to drink at all – for example, if on particular kinds of medication or if experiencing particular kinds of physical or mental health problems.

Keeping an eye on your drinking is important if you want to keep health risks to a minimum. Knowing how much you drink will allow you to see if you’re within the recommended low risk weekly limit. And you don’t need to have a drink problem to benefit from drinking less. Reducing your alcohol intake has many advantages including

  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Less weight gain
  • Increased stability in mood

What is a standard drink?

Standard drinks contain about 10g of pure alcohol

One standard drink is:

  • A half pint of lager
  • A single measure of spirits
  • A small glass of wine (around 100mls)
  • A bottle of any alcopop
  • A bottle of wine constitutes 8 standard drinks

Remember it’s difficult to pour a standard drink at home without the guide of pub measures.

How do I know if drinking could be damaging my health?

This short test, formulated by the World Health Organisation, will help you to find out whether your drinking could be harmful. When you have answered all the questions, click on the “Complete Test” button at the end to get your score and feedback.

If you regularly drink heavily, think you might be dependent on alcohol or are concerned about your drinking, you might like to seek support. Your GP will be able to guide you through the help available to find something that suits you.

Click here to start the short test …

Alcohol and your body

Drink puts men at increased risk of developing more than 60 different diseases and conditions some of which are caused by alcohol, while alcohol is a contributory factor in others. These include:

  • Cancer of the mouth, tongue and throat
  • Oesophageal cancer
  • Laryngeal cancers
  • Acute pancreatitis
  • Cardiovascular diseases including stroke and coronary heart disease
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Liver cancer

You may be surprised to learn that most drink-related deaths and diseases actually occur among drinkers who are not dependent on alcohol.

It’s not just physical health that can be negatively affected by the way we drink. Drinking above low-risk weekly limits also increases the risk of damage to mental health, of having an accident or injury, as well as doing damage to relationships with friends and family

Accidents and injuries

Being drunk can contribute to getting into risky situations that would be avoided if sober. A recent Irish study found that those who drank over the weekly limit were three times more likely to be involved in a fight or accident than others. One in four admissions to Accident and Emergency Departments are alcohol-related.

Alcohol & mental health

We often use alcohol to change a mood or mental state, to cope with situations we might find stressful or worrying, or to relax or unwind after a hectic day. Although in the short term a drink might seem like a good idea, drinking can increase depression and anxiety soon after use, leaving a person feeling low and unable to cope.

There are more effective and healthier ways to cope with life’s stresses. Eating well, exercising and finding enjoyable ways to relax and to cope are very important. And don’t forget to talk to someone you trust about your worries and concerns.

Alcohol & sexual health

Alcohol can cloud your judgement and result in you having sex without precautions. Many men report to being drunk the first time they have sex with someone, which could result in you getting a STI or an unplanned pregnancy. Regular heavy drinking can result in reduced sexual appetite, lower your fertility level or even result in poor sexual performance or difficultly getting an erection.

For more information on contraception, sexual health and crisis pregnancy, please visit

For more information about alcohol and your health, please visit the following sites:

National Office for Suicide Prevention’s new site at is a youth mental health service

Head Strong is a national organisation working with communities to ensure that young people are better supported to achieve mental health and well being

Mental Health Ireland is a national voluntary organisation which aims to promote mental health and support persons with a mental illness aims to improve awareness and understanding of mental health in Ireland

Heads Up is an automated 24hr text service set up to show young people where to get help

The Samaritans aims to improve people’s emotional health in order to create a greater sense of well being. They provide support with a 24-hour telephone line, by email, by letter or face to face, and also through work in the local community

Aware is the national voluntary organisation providing support through depression

Accord is an Irish voluntary Catholic organisation that aims to promote a deeper understanding of Christian marriage and to offer people the means to safeguard and nourish their marriage and family relationships.

HSE Health Promotion Unit is the HSE’s information website aimed at raising awareness of alcohol related problems