A new report has called for alcohol guidelines to be revised to recognise drinkers may want to drink over the current recommended allowance in one sitting.

Research published in the medical journal Addiction has recommended looking at models in Canada and Australia.

The report’s authors, from the universities of Sheffield and Stirling, said the guidelines were seen as “irrelevant” by people whose drinking patterns comprised heavy weekend drinking.

The report says: “The guidelines were seen as unrealistic for those motivated to drink for intoxication, and participants measured alcohol intake in numbers of drinks or containers rather than units.’

The team interviewed 66 drinkers across England and Scotland, and found most people knew the guidelines existed, but saw them as being unrelated to their own drinking.

Study author Dr John Holmes, of Sheffield University’s Alcohol Research Group, told the Daily Mail: “The guidelines are a poor fit.

“You have to have some kind of guideline that recognises that if you are drinking infrequently, you might want to drink higher amounts.

“They might say don’t drink more than 20 units a week, but on any single day, don’t drink more than eight units or ten units or something like that.”

He said that although most people ignore the official guidelines, they do monitor their drinking using a personal system – often because they want to avoid a hangover, rather than a fear of health consequences.

Alcohol units had failed to help people moderate their drinking, Dr Holmes said, adding: “We have had ten or 20 years of trying to educate people about units. Perhaps the units aren’t the best way to go.

“If the guidelines turned out to be, say, 20 units a week, maybe the right way to communicate it is to say it is roughly ten pints of beer or two bottles of wine.”