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Drug Information



What is alcohol?

Alcohol is made by fermenting fruits, vegetables or grains and includes beers, wines, lagers, ciders and spirits. The amount of alcohol contained within a drink is indicated in percentages of alcohol by volume (A.B.V), the higher the percentage the more alcohol is contained within the drink.

How is it used?

Alcohol is almost always consumed orally; it can also be snorted or injected although this is very rare.

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Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is absorbed very quickly into the blood stream from the stomach lining. Small amounts usually help people relax and reduce inhibitions. Your mood will influence how you experience alcohol.

Alcohol can be measured in units, with one unit of alcohol equivalent to half pint of ordinary strength beer, cider or lager, one small glass of wine or one single shot of spirits. We suggest in order to use alcohol safely that adult males should consume no more than 21 units a week, and adult females no more than 14 units a week. There are no recommended safe limits for young people under the age of eighteen.

Drinking large amounts leads to poor coordination, slurred speech, double vision and ultimately loss of consciousness.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol in one session (binge drinking) can carry significant health risks. Death can happen as a result of people losing consciousness and choking on their own vomit, or dying as a result of alcohol poisoning. Overdose and death is more likely to occur if alcohol is mixed with other depressant drugs such as benzodiazepines. Any amount of alcohol will affect judgement and coordination therefore if a person has consumed alcohol they should not: drive a vehicle; take part in activities such as swimming; operate machinery.

Legal status

Premises that sell alcohol must hold a licence. It is generally illegal for people under the age of 18 to buy or drink alcohol on licensed premises. 16 year olds can drink alcohol (but not spirits) in a pub if they are having a meal. The legal limit for driving in the UK is 80 mgs of alcohol in every 100 ml of blood and 35 mgs of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. In practice there are many factors which can affect someone’s ability to stay under the legal limit, so there is no fail safe guide as to how much someone can drink before it’s illegal to drive.

The only safe advice is to not drink and drive.



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