What is an Alcoholic Drinks Journal and Why It’s a Good Idea to Keep One?

Picture of Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

What is an Alcoholic Drinks Journal and Why It’s a Good Idea to Keep One
Thinking about keeping track of how much you drink? We have resources that can help you claim back control.
Here at Help4Addiction, we have always maintained that preventing an addiction is better than finding a cure for one. If we want to effectively combat the addiction crisis in England and Wales, we need to educate, enlighten, and help people fight back before the brewing addiction becomes an active one. Part of educating people around the use of drugs and alcohol, is in teaching them the importance of keeping track. Not everyone who has an addiction knows they are addicted. Government reports for the 2019-2020 period say that 270,705 adults with addiction problems interacted with their services. This is only a portion of the total number of those in addiction. It is also only a 2k+ increase on the previous year[i]. When we have the 2021 statistics, we can expect a further rise made worse by the ongoing pandemic.

How to Keep Track of Your Drug and Alcohol Use

We promote the use of three of the resources run through the Help4Addiction website to keep track of a potential addiction. The first resource is our interactive drinks and unit calculator, which helps you add up what you have drunk that day or week. The second is the unit guide we keep on site. The third is our guidance on keeping an effective alcohol drinks journal. We say an alcohol journal, but if you use illicit drugs this trick will work equally well. The trouble with tracking illicit drug use, of course, is that we don’t have accurate information on how much is too much. While the NHS clearly state that 14 units of alcohol a week is ‘low risk drinking’, we don’t have that with drug use. Nevertheless, you can use a drug use journal to help you cut down drug use. To access these resources simply visit the relevant pages. Click here for the downloadable Alcoholic Drinks Journal, here for the Sobriety Calculator, and here for our Alcohol Units Guide.

How to Use the Alcohol Drinks Journal?

When you download the journal, you will receive a formatted example of what should go inside your own journal. You can keep it electronically and use it as a template to create your own drinks journal, or you can write your own out by hand. As we know, we shouldn’t routinely drink more than 14 units a week. If we are, then we must consider that we need to curb our drinking.

How do you know if you’re drinking too many units?

This leads us to step two. Once you have recorded a full week’s drinking in your journal, you can visit our alcohol units guide page to assign a unit value to each drink. This handy to use guide describes the drinks with pictures in an infographic. Each type of drink shown has the units and strengths beside it, so you can see how much each drink is worth in units at a glance. Once you have accessed the chart, you can work through your drinks journal for the week and assign the unit value. Once done, you can add up all the units you have drunk that week and arrive at an accurate total. You might be surprised at how much you are drinking when you place unit values on the alcohol. 14 units is equivalent to 7 cans of beer or cider, but only 4.75 large glasses of red wine. A pint is worth 2 units if it is lower strength, but 3 units if it is higher.

What to do if you can’t get control of your drinking/drug use?

If you find you can’t combat the lure of substance abuse on your own, there are programs that are made just for you. You can call the Help4Addiction team to discuss these programs, all of which will teach you how to tackle the brewing addiction in a healthy way. For a drinker or drug user who routinely hits their 14 units or mildly exceeds this limit, we recommend a 7 day stay with detox included, to interrupt the cycle and teach you how to fight back in future. For someone who routinely reaches 15-20 units per week, a fortnight long stay with detox is better, but a 28 day stay is thorough. Anyone regularly drinking more than 20 units per week should stay in rehab for at least 28 days to combat their addiction. [i]

FREE Call Back Service

Request a FREE call back and speak to our support team – we’re ready to help you get on the road to recovery.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

The Cost Of Rehab

Are you unsure if you can afford addiction rehabilitation? Learn how to get support from private and funded rehab options.