Alcohol

Drink, Booze, Bevvy, Liquor, Pop, Juice
questionmarkWhat is alcohol?

Although it is legal for those aged 18 and over to buy and drink alcohol, that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful than other drugs. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your body's responses in all kinds of ways. Just enough can make you feel sociable; too much and you’ll have a hangover the next day, and may not even remember what you got up to; and way too much alcohol in a single session could put you in a coma or even kill you.

Effects of alcohol can include:
  • Reduced feelings of anxiety and inhibitions, making you feel more sociable.
  • Some exaggeration of whatever mood you're in when you start drinking.
  • Causing a wide range of physical health problems, either as a result of binge drinking or from drinking most days of the week over recommended levels. The problems caused by alcohol include cancers, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and falls and other accidents.
Official guidelines:

For young people – it is recommended that you don’t drink at all if under 15, as this can be especially harmful. The best advice is not to drink alcohol until you’re 18. If you do choose to drink before then, remember to make sure you’re with a responsible adult who will stop you doing anything that could be dangerous;

  • Never drink more than once a week – and on that one day young men are advised not to drink more than 3-4 units, and young women not to drink more than 2-3 units.
  • For adults – it is recommended men shouldn’t regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day and women shouldn’t regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day (regularly is drinking at this sort of level every day or most days of the week). After a night of
    heavy drinking, you shouldn’t drink for 48 hours to allow the body to
    recover.
How much are you drinking?

Click here to download a drink diary

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What are the effects of alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant on brain activity:

  • A small amount can reduce feelings of anxiety and inhibitions, making you feel more sociable. And it will often exaggerate whatever mood you're in when you start drinking.
  • The short-term effects of alcohol can last for a day or two, depending on how much you drank, including the hangover.
  • Long-term effects include damage to body that can take years to develop and this leads to a wide range of serious health problems, like cancers that you may not realise are due to alcohol.
What are the risks of alcohol?

exclamationmarkDrinking alcohol involves risks, and the risks are higher if you drink excessively on a single occasion or drink higher amounts regularly over time. Here’s what it could do to you.

  • One drink too many can leave you feeling out of control – slurring your words, losing your balance and vomiting.
  • Alcohol can make you mouthy, argumentative and aggressive. There’s no way of knowing beforehand if you’re going to turn into a nasty drunk but some people do find that heavy drinking affects them in ways they don’t like. Alcohol can also make you take risks that you normally wouldn’t take.
  • You’re more likely to take part in risky behaviours that you wouldn’t when you’re sober, e.g. unprotected sex.
  • Alcohol contributes to all kinds of problems in Britain, from violent crime to domestic violence to car-related deaths to missing work and unemployment.
  • Drinking above the lower-risk guidelines for regular drinking persistently over time causes illnesses such as high blood pressure, liver damage, stomach cancer, breast cancer and heart disease.
  • Too much on a single occasion can lead to alcohol poisoning which could put you in a coma or even kill you.

More information about alcohol can be found at the Drinkaware website

The Law

Under 5 – It’s illegal to give an alcoholic drink to a child under 5 except in certain circumstances (e.g. under medical supervision).

Children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult in a pub.

It is against the law for anyone under 18 to buy alcohol in a pub, off-licence or supermarket or on-line.

It's also illegal for a person to buy alcohol for someone under 18 except where that person buys beer, wine or cider for someone aged 16 or 17 to be drunk with a table meal while accompanied by a person over 18.

The police have the power to stop a person and confiscate alcohol in a public place if they reasonably suspect the person to be under 18 years of age. Those under 18 who lawiconpersistently drink or possess alcohol in a public places may be prosecuted. Anyone over 18 can buy and drink alcohol legally in licensed premises in Britain. But, a lot of shops operate a scheme called Challenge 21 where if you look under 21 (or 25 in some places) and don’t have proof of your age they can refuse to sell you alcohol.

Drugs & Alcohol


Legal Highs

Legal Highs’ are substances which produce the same, or similar effects, to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, but are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

They are considered illegal to sell, supply or advertise for “human consumption” under current medicines legislation. To get round this sellers will refer to them as research chemicals, plant food, bath crystals or pond cleaner.

There are a large number of legal highs, but here are a few key facts:

  • Just because a drug is legal to possess, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear that ‘legal highs’ are far from harmless and can have similar health risks to drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and speed.
  • Risks of ‘legal highs’ can include reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures, and death.
  • These risks are increased if used with alcohol or other drugs.
  • It is likely that drugs sold as a ‘legal high’ may actually contain one or more substances that are actually illegal to possess. What you may think is a legal high that you can’t get in trouble for having, could be something completely different, and in fact a class B drug.

Worried About Someone?

Not all drugs are addictive, and everybody that uses drugs doesn’t become dependent. When drug use becomes problematic it can lead to addiction and signs this has happen can include:

  • The need for regular use.
  • Constantly have drugs in their possession.
  • Strange and ‘out of character’ behavior
  • Mood Swings
  • Physical changes like Weight loss
  • Sometimes people don’t recognise their drug use has become a problem. They refuse to believe that they are addicted or dependent. If you think you think a friend has a problem and you want to help them, think about how you're going to approach it and what you’re going to say?

    It could be a sensitive subject for them and you don’t what to looking like you’re getting. They may not listen to you at first but don’t let this put you off. The best thing that you can do is to be there for them, to support and encourage them to change. You can also help by keeping your friend away from situations that can trigger or expose them to drug use.

    Some people are able to overcome their issues with drugs before any serious harm has been done to them, or their family and friends. Other users have to hit rock bottom before they can see the harm and damage they are doing and start addressing their drug use.