Alcohol can affect judgement and ability to assess what you do and don’t feel comfortable with. This can make you more vulnerable, but don’t let alcohol or drugs make up your mind for you.

If you go out and are drinking or are taking drugs then make sure that you are still able to think straight so that you don’t put yourself in danger.

Ways to drink safely:

  • Drink plenty of water. Pacing yourself in this way should ensure your body doesn’t dehydrate. A pint of water before you go to bed can also see off any headaches.
  • Eat well before you drink and your body will be better equipped to soak up the alcohol. Go for food that takes a long time to digest, such as bread, cheese, potato and pasta, as this will line your stomach. A pint of milk is also thought to have the same effect.
  • Try not to mix your drinks, because you’re only adding to the number of toxins that your body has to deal with. If you are planning on a long night stick to one kind of alcohol.
  • Try turning up to the bar or party later than usual, to minimise you’re drinking time, or kick off with a soft drink to stop you feeling so thirsty.
  • Binge drinking, is dangerous, as your body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour. If you can pace your drinking and know when enough is enough, your body wont suffer as much the next day. Before you start drinking be sure you know when to stop. This can be hard when everyone else is drinking, but it avoids bad hangovers and medical problems in later life.
  • A hair of the dog drink might help blunt your headache, basically by making you drunk again, but all you are doing is delaying the inevitable alcohol comedown.
  • Finally, when the party time is over take a break from alcohol – set aside an alcohol-free period every now and then. It might be one day in a week or a month, but this respite will boost your health.
  • How does alcohol affect the body?

What alcohol does to my body (its called P-H-A-R-M-A-C-O-L-O-G-Y):

Alcohol is a drug that affects all your body, including your stomach, skin, brain and liver. When a person drinks an alcoholic beverage, about 20% of the alcohol is absorbed in the stomach and about 80% is absorbed in the small intestine.

One of the most rapid affects of alcohol is on the central nervous system (CNS), which controls a range of vital body functions including speech, muscles, sense organs and sweat glands.

Usually the CNS receives information from organs such as the eyes and ears, analyses it and then responds, perhaps by contracting a muscle. However, alcohol impairs our CNS functioning, which, in turn, causes the usual symptoms of being drunk.

These include disturbed balance, slurred speech, blurred vision, excess sweating and the dulling of our sensation of pain.

Alcohol also affects the outer layer of the brain (the frontal cortex) that is concerned with conscious thought. This is why people under the influence of alcohol often lose their inhibitions, dance on the tables and occasionally do things which they may later regret when sober.

Sounds rubbish. How much can I drink then?

Too much alcohol can cause serious damage. So how much is too much?

NHS advice states that men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day and women should not regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day (and don’t drink any alcohol a couple of days a week). A unit of alcohol is 10 ml (8g) of pure alcohol. The number of units in an alcoholic drink will depend on its strength as well as the size of the glass. Counting units can help us to keep track of what we are actually drinking. Some examples of popular drinks and their alcohol content include:

  • 1 single gin and tonic = 1 unit
  • ½ pint of 5% cider = 1.5 units
  • 1 alcopop = 1.4 units
  • 1 glass (175ml) of 13% wine = 2.3 units
  • 1 pint of 5% lager = 3 units
  • 1 bottle of 12.5% wine = 10 units

Please remember – the daily guidelines do not apply to young people and women during or when planning pregnancy.

Remember: Mixing alcohol with illegal or prescribed drugs is very dangerous and could also reduce the effects of medication.

Drinking and driving

You know the score.  Don’t do it.