The Effects of Drinking

It’s important to know the effects of alcohol and whether your drinking is getting out of hand. It can sometimes be hard to figure out when to slow down or stop drinking, so we’ve got some tips to help you party safe.

The Effects of Drinking

Alcohol effects everyone differently, and there are a lot of factors that can change how you will react to drinking. Things like your age, body weight, mood, where you’re drinking and who with all contributes to the effect alcohol will have on you. The more you drink, the more serious the effects of alcohol will be. Although alcohol can be safe to drink in moderate amounts, it can also be really dangerous, even fatal, if you drink too much.

Short term effects include:
  • feeling relaxed
  • feeling more confident
  • losing your inhibitions (doing things you normally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing)
  • slurred speech
  • slower reflexes
  • losing your coordination (this might cause accidents like tripping over)
  • not being able to conerntrate
  • flushed cheeks
  • intense moods (feeling really happy or really sad)
  • blurred vision
  • feeling sleepy
  • blackouts (not remembering what happened for a period of time)
  • alcohol poisoning
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)
  • falling into a coma

If you are with someone who is really drunk and starts vomiting tell and adult and get them somewhere safe and quiet. If they start to lose consciousness call an ambulance. The ambulance will not get the police involved or get you in trouble for underage drinking.

Apart from the immediate effects of drinking, alcohol can also have serious long term effects on your health. It’s not just about how much you drink in one night, it’s also about how much your drink in a week or a month.

Long term effects include:
  • stomach problems
  • concentration and long term memory problems
  • poor nutrition
  • sexual and reproductive problems
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • liver disease
  • alcohol dependency
  • brain injury
  • cancer
Monitoring your Drinking

There is an easy way to monitor how much you’re drinking, by counting the number of standard drinks you have. Different types of drinks contain different amounts of alcohol. One standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol. Drinks like beer and cider contain less alcohol than drinks like wine and spirits, so a standard drink of beer will be bigger than a standard drink of wine. All alcoholic drinks sold in Australia have the number of standard drinks on the side of the bottle, so if you’re not sure how strong the drink is that you’re buying you can always check on the label.

Here is a helpful guide to some of the most common standard drinks. You can also use Drink Wise’s standard drinks calculator to work out how much a standard drink is. Check out the facts on alcohol for some great safe drinking tips!

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Hang Overs

If you drink too much in one night, you’ll probably know about it the next day. Feeling sick the day after drinking is called a hangover. The hangover will probably be worse the more you drink. The effects of a hangover include:

  • headaches
  • craving fatty foods
  • dehydration
  • feeling down
  • nausea or vomiting
  • feeling weak or shaky
  • not remembering things that happened the night before

If you have a hangover the best thing to do is drink lots of water and eat if you feel like it. You will be dehydrated so drinking a sports drink might help. You might need to spend the day just chilling out, or even in bed if it’s really bad.

A great way to avoid a hangover is is to monitor how much you are drinking, and stop when you reach your limit. Drink water between alcoholic drinks and drink slowly- don’t try to keep up with others, you’ll probably regret it the next day.

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is drinking to deliberately get drunk. It usually means not drinking much normally but getting really drunk sometimes (like not drinking any alcohol during the week and then getting really drunk on a Saturday night). Binge drinking can lead to some pretty bad stuff like having an accident, having unsafe sex, getting into arguments with your friends and can also cause long term health problems.

To avoid binge drinking try to:
  • monitor the number of drinks you have
  • eat a proper meal before you start drinking
  • drink water or soft drink in between alcoholic drinks
  • drink slowly
  • don’t go in on rounds with other people
  • avoid drinking games

If you’re worried about getting too drunk make a plan with a friend to slow down, and have them tell you if they think you’re too drunk. It’s also a great idea to check in with your friends throughout the night, to make sure everyone is still having a good time. You can find more great tips at Youth Central and Reachout.

Alcoholism and Alcohol Dependency

Alcohol dependency is different to binge drinking in that instead of drinking a lot occasionally, you drink drink a lot regularly and become dependent on alcohol in your everyday life. Some of the warning signs of alcohol dependence include:

  • high alcohol tolerance (needing to drink more and more to get drunk)
  • worrying about when you’ll get to have your next drink
  • feeling sick when you haven’t had a drink (like sweating and nausea)
  • drinking alone regularly
  • drinking (or wanting to) in the morning
  • hiding your drinking from others
  • drinking affecting your relationships with your friends or family

If you or someone close to you is showing some of these warning signs there are heaps of places you can go for support. You can call the Counselling Online, Family Drug Support HelplineBeyond Blue or Headspace for confidential counselling and support.

Where to go for help

If you’re worried about your drinking or a friend or family member’s drinking, it can really help to talk about it. Talk to an adult you trust like a parent, teacher, school counsellor or youth worker. You can access free alcohol and drug counselling from Counselling Online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Mental health organisations like Beyond BlueHeadspace and Reach Out are also great places to seek help. It’s all completely confidential and free.