If you don’t drink then jump straight to the next section Anaemia

What should I do now – However much you drink, cutting down is sensible before an operation.

Drinking excess alcohol increases your risk for an operation by 4-5 times. Reducing or stopping before your operation (best at least 1 month ahead but earlier the better) reduces that risk

Drinking alcohol is part of the culture for many people and there is new and clear information and guidelines about the long term effects of hazardous drinking.

However for the operative period there is a specific and clear 4-5 times increase in risk from hazardous drinking.


Why should I stop/cut down

Evidence suggests that abstinence (stopping drink completely) for 1 month prior to surgery allows most of the damage alcohol can do  relevant to surgery to return to normal.

What should I do

Many people decide from time to time to have a “dry month” in January, or for Lent etc.  This might be a good time to do the same now.

If you drink less than 30 units a week most people can stop without problems though it is important to find some other activity to do instead of the time spent drinking.

If you drink much more than 30 units per week then you might find it more difficult (or dangerous if you drink a lot more) to stop suddenly, and it is often safer to cut down you drinking by half initially.

Drinkaware website has a simple unit and calories calculator

They also have an app available from here

If you don’t drink then jump straight to the next section Anaemia


Evidence about alcohol and operations

Herefordshire Alcohol Services

Tel: 01432 802487



Leeds Alcohol Services

National Services - Alcohol

These are links to National websites and services


Other useful contacts for alcohol problems:
  • Drinkline is the national alcohol helpline. If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline, in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am – 8pm, weekends 11am – 4pm).
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a free self-help group. Its “12-step” programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups. AA’s belief is that people with drink problems need to give up alcohol permanently.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups offer support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they’re still drinking or not. Alateen is part of Al-Anon and can be attended by 12- to 17-year-olds who are affected by another person’s drinking, usually a parent.
  • Addaction is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities to manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Adfam is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and database of local support groups.
  • The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned with their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.