It is advised that men do not regularly exceed 3-4 units per day – this is equivalent to a pint and a half of beer/cider, a large glass of wine or 3/4 shots of spirits. Women on the other hand should not regularly exceed 2-3 units per day – this is equivalent to a pint of beer/cider, a medium glass of wine or 2/3 shots of spirits.
These units should be spread throughout the week, with at least two alcohol-free days in every seven. Binge drinking and drinking them all at once can increase your chances of injury and increase the damage to your body.
Alcohol affects various parts of your body – it’s not just your head that suffers the next morning!
Short term effects:
- Increase sexual risk taking – this could result in the transmission of sexually transmitted infections
- Slurred speech
- Slower reactions
- Impaired memory
- Slower brain functions causing a loss of balance
- Dehydration – which can cause permanent brain damage
- Lower your blood sugar levels, so you could suffer seizures
Long term effects:
- Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver
- Cirrhosis – scarring of the liver
- Stomach ulcers
- Gastritis – inflammation of the stomach lining
- Raised blood pressure which puts a strain on the heart
- Increased risk of developing cancer of the mouth, larynx, pharynx and oesophagus
- Brain damage
- Blood poisoning
Precautions for a night out:
- Ensure you eat a proper meal before going out as this will slow the absorption of alcohol into the blood stream
- Make sure you stay in a group
- Never leave your drink unattended in bars and clubs or accept drinks from complete strangers
- Plan how you’re going to get home before you go out – designate a driver or make sure you’ve got the number for a reliable taxi or know the times of public transport and keep aside enough money to get home safely
- Avoid walking home by yourself but if you have to, don’t walk through unlit or unsafe areas and never walk home on your own
- Drink lots of water before going to sleep as alcohol makes you dehydrated
What to do with a friend when they have had too much to drink:
- Try to keep them awake and sitting up
- Give them some water, if they can drink it
- Keep them warm
- Stay with them and monitor their symptoms
- Lie them on their side in the recovery position if they’ve passed out, and check they’re airways are clear and they’re breathing properly
Then dial 999 for an Ambulance.
You should NEVER:
- Let them drink any more alcohol as the amount of alcohol in their bloodstream will become even more dangerously high
- Leave someone to sleep it off. The amount of alcohol in their blood will continue to rise even when they have stopped drinking because alcohol in the digestive system carries on being absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Make them get up and walk around because alcohol is a depressant that results in slowing down brain function and a loss of balance so walking them around increases the chances of an accident occurring
- Give them a coffee. Alcohol causes dehydration so giving them coffee will only dehydrate them more and severe dehydration can cause permanent brain damage
- Make them sick as their gag reflex won’t be functioning as it normally would meaning that they have an increased chance of choking on their vomit
- Put them in a cold shower because alcohol lowers body temperature so having a cold shower could result in hypothermia