Alcohol and Your Health
What happens when you drink alcohol?
- Within minutes of having a drink, the alcohol travels through your bloodstream and is passed to your brain. Alcohol is absorbed more quickly if you haven’t eaten. Younger and older people may process alcohol more slowly. This allows alcohol to stay in the system longer. Some fizzy alcoholic drinks get into your bloodstream quicker than others do.
- Alcohol is a depressant- it alters your perceptions, emotions, and senses.
- Alcohol can make people feel relaxed and happy, giggly, talkative, or even light-headed. If a person carries on drinking more alcohol that person may feel unsteady and it may be hard to concentrate on their surroundings. Some people become aggressive or violent; others may be sick and can even end up choking.
- It takes an adult about an hour to get rid of one unit of alcohol. The more you drink the greater the effects of alcohol. Drinking alcohol very quickly does not mean that you will get drunk very quickly- it could mean that you will end up getting ill and may need medical attention.
Drinking too much alcohol
- Drinking great amounts of alcohol also makes people end up saying or doing something they regret. You may get a headache or feel sick and dizzy- this is referred to as a hangover. It can also make you unconscious.
- Large volumes of alcohol drunk in a short period of time may cause alcohol poisoning.
What happens when you drink?
One glass of white wine or a pint of lager (approximately 2 units):
- You are talkative and you feel relaxed.
- Your self-confidence increases.
- Driving ability is already impaired, which is why it is best to drink no alcohol if you’re driving.
Two glasses of white wine or two pints of lager (approximately4 units):
- Your blood flow increases.
- You feel less inhibited and your attention span is shorter.
- You start dehydrating, one of the causes of a hangover.
Three glasses of white wine or three pints of lager (approximately 6 units):
- Your reaction time is slower.
- Your liver has to work harder.
- Your sex drive may increase, while your judgment may decrease.
Four glasses of white wine or three and a half pints of lager (approximately 8 units):
- You are easily confused.
- You’re noticeably emotional.
- Your sex drive could now decrease and you may become less capable.
Most drinkers are unaware that regularly drinking more than the limits advised by the NHS can lead to a wide range of long-term health problems, including cancers, strokes and heart attacks. Long-term alcohol-related illness or death affects older people who drink more than the recommended daily limits and consider themselves to be “social drinkers”.
- Alcohol affects each person differently. Many factors will influence the level of alcohol in your blood, such as age, weight, how quickly your body breaks down chemicals, type of drink, the speed of drinking and the amount that you have eaten.
- There are plenty of alternatives to drinking and driving that won’t spoil your fun. Take turns with your friends or family members at being the designated driver. Otherwise, take a taxi or stay at a friend’s house for the night. Make sure you only stay with someone you know and trust. If you’ve spent the evening drinking and you plan to drive the next day, it’s safest to leave at least 12 hours for the alcohol to leave your system. If you’ve drunk a lot, you may need even more time. You may still be affected by alcohol the morning after. If you have a hangover, your driving ability may be impaired anyway.
- If you are having a party at home, consider your guests who may not be drinking alcohol, and make them a non-alcoholic cocktail
If you are out celebrating over the festive period, be safe and avoid alcohol before you drive!
- Binge drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk (This depends on each individual and their tolerance and speed of drinking in a single session).
- Binge drinking increases the risk of heart attack. It could cause you to vomit and if you are sick when very drunk you could breathe in your own vomit and suffocate.
- Try to pace yourself and avoid drinking more than you are used to and to get drunk – this is even more important if you are out in risky or unfamiliar circumstances.
- You can be at risk from others, and may not be able to look after your friends.
- You can easily lose control of what you do or say and may make risky decisions, thinking you’re invulnerable.