Alcohol is the most misused drug in UK. It has strong cultural traditions and a long history. Its use in moderation causes few issues for adults, but too much alcohol can cause health problems, particuarly for young people whose bodies and brains are still developing. Common problems resulting from alcohol include: reduced sleep, weight gain; increased blood pressure; liver damage. In 2015 there were over 8,700 alcohol-related deaths and 90,000 adults were in treatment with an alcohol dependency.
In 2015 about 38% of secondary school students got drunk under the legal age – the lowest on record. The most common reason pupils thought people of their own age drank alcohol was to look cool in front of their friends (79%).
In 2016, 21% of the population reported not drinking at all and overall consumption has fallen by around 18% since 2004.
Everyone who drinks needs to think about how they (and the people close to them) can better manage consumption.
Also known as: booze, hooch, juice, beers.
Alcohol is intoxicating so affects balance, makes you confused, dizzy, uncoordinated. Too much will lead to vomiting and even unconsciousness. It also dehydrates you causing the hangover feeling and headache. The effects will depend on the amount consumed and on the strength of the drink.
Beer and Cider 3.5% – 8%
Spirits about 40%.
Heavy sessions will cause blackouts. Some people can get aggressive or violent after a few drinks.
Alcohol in its pure form is like a poison to the body. So long-term use will cause major damage to the body especially the liver which can become diseased. Other long term effects include heart disease, cancer and depression.
But consuming very large amounts quickly whatever age can cause alcohol poisoning which can be fatal – 489 people died from alcohol poisoning in the UK in 2013-14. Hospital admissions for young people under 18 in the 3 year period 2011- 14 were 13,725. There were more admissions for girls than boys.
There are many indirect harms too from accidents, falling or drink driving crashes. It can also impact on your mental health. People intoxicated can be vulnerable to sexual assault or robbery. Plan on how you are getting home at the beginning of the evening if you expect to have a few drinks.
It is always safer to consume alcohol when you are hydrated and have eaten. Avoid binge drinking. Try not to mix drinks of different strengths. Drink water between drinks. Best not to drink anything if you are driving. Look after yourself and decide when you have had enough. Plan on how you are getting home at the beginning of the evening if you expect to have a few drinks.
Alcohol may only be purchased by those 18 and over although many pubs and clubs operate a 21 or even 25 rules. Drink driving convictions mean an automatic ban of at least 12 months plus fine, more serious offences with high levels of alcohol detected can lead to imprisonment.