AKA: BOOZE, BEVVY
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.
Alcohol comes in a whole range of different drinks.
Spirits usually contain a higher level of alcohol than wine or lager.
‘Alcopops’ and ready-to-drink ‘mixers’ may not seem to be strong drinks but they usually contain more alcohol by volume than beer or cider.
Prices vary depending on what you drink and the quality, for instance a premium whisky or older bottle of wine is more expensive than a pint of beer.
The UK Chief Medical Officers advise that an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option. However, if young people drink alcohol:
For adults, the UK Chief Medical Officers advise that there is also no completely safe level of drinking, but that by sticking within their recommended guidelines, people can lower the risks of harming their health.
Adults are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week, to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level. And if they do drink as much as 14 units per week, it is best to spread this evenly over 3 days or more. If they want to cut down the amount they’re drinking, a good way to help achieve this is to have several drink-free days each week.
Units of alcohol
A unit is a way of expressing the actual amount of pure alcohol that is in a drink. This allows you to compare how strong one type of alcoholic drink is to another type. For example:
Check the label on drinks as they often show the number of alcohol units. If they don’t, you can calculate the units by multiplying its ABV (ABV is ‘alcohol by volume’ and shows you the strength of an alcoholic drink), by the volume of the drink (in mls) and then dividing by 1,000.
What are the effects of alcohol?
Alcohol is a depressant on brain activity:
What are the risks of alcohol?
Drinking 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.
More information about alcohol can be found at the Drinkaware website
The scientific name for the alcohol in drinks is ethanol or ethyl alcohol. Other types of alcohol, such as methanol and butanol, are much more toxic than ethanol and should not be consumed by humans, as they can cause serve liver damage, blindness and even death.
Although these toxic forms of alcohol are sometimes found in counterfeit alcoholic drinks, the vast majority of alcohol brought from legitimate sources won’t contain any impurities.
Counterfeit alcoholic drinks tend to be sold in places you wouldn’t normally buy alcohol, such as car boot sales, and sold at low prices. Sometimes, a clue to knowing that an alcoholic drink is counterfeit is its labelling and packing – there maybe spelling mistakes, holographic labels aren’t holographic, etc.
Can you get addicted to alcohol?
Some people’s drinking gradually gets out of control and if they regularly drink above the recommended guidelines, they’re at particularly high risk of harming their health. For some people, it also leads to them becoming dependent on alcohol.
Psychological and physical dependence on alcohol can creep up on you. Your tolerance to alcohol gradually increases the more you drink, so you may find that over time that you need more alcohol to get the same effect, you may seem to be getting better at holding your drink when that’s really a sign of a developing problem.
For people who are more dependent on alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms after they stop drinking can be severe. In some cases the withdrawal symptoms can be fatal, so a person may require medical treatment because of this risk of death. Typically, the symptoms include sweating, shaking, nausea and retching and high levels of anxiety. Some people can develop hallucinations or fits, or occasionally life-threatening delirious states.
There’s often misunderstandings about alcohol and what’s legal and what’s not, so here’s a quick guide to the law
The police have the power to stop a person and confiscate alcohol in a public place if they reasonably suspect the person to be aged under 18. Young people under 18 who persistently drink or are found possessing alcohol in public places may be prosecuted.
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