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Drinking and Alcohol

young man asleep on a table while holding an empty beer bottle

Although it is legal for people over the age of 18 to buy and drink alcohol, that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful than other drugs!

Alcohol is a depressant. This means it slows down your body’s responses to things that you do. Just enough alcohol can make you feel sociable. If you drink too much you’ll have a hangover the next day, and may not even remember what you got up to. If you drink way too much alcohol in a single session you could end up in a coma or it could even kill you.
Effects of alcohol can include:
•Reduced feelings of anxiety and inhibitions, making you feel more sociable.
•Exaggerating the mood that you’re in when you start drinking. For example if you’re feeling down, drinking alcohol may make you feel even more low.
•Causing a range of physical health problems, either as a result of binge drinking, or from drinking more than recommended safe amounts over the course of a week. The problems caused by alcohol include cancers, heart problems, high blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, and falls and other accidents.
There are no guaranteed safe levels of drinking; however here are some official government guidelines that are recommended to keep you as safe and healthy as possible:•For young people – it is recommended that under 15’s don’t drink at all, as this can be particularly harmful. The best advice is not to drink alcohol until you’re 18. However, if you do choose to drink before then, remember to make sure you’re with a responsible adult (or friend) who will stop you doing anything that could be dangerous;•Don’t drink more than once a week – and on that one day young men are advised not to drink more than 3-4 units, and young women not to drink more than 2-3 units.

•For adults – it is recommended men shouldn’t regularly drink more than 3-4 units a day and women shouldn’t regularly drink more than 2-3 units a day (regularly is drinking at this sort of level every day or most days of the week). After a night of heavy drinking, you shouldn’t drink for 48 hours to allow the body to recover.

The effects of drinking are not always immediately evident and it can often take years to notice alcohol related health problems. By this time serious health problems could have developed. These can include liver problems, reduced fertility and increased risks of various cancers and heart attacks.
How much is a unit?

You might be surprised at the amount of units in some drinks:

•· 1 regular can of 5% beer or cider = 2.2 units

•· 1 standard glass of 12% wine = 2.1 units

•· 1 single shot = 1 unit

•· I small bottle of WKD = 1.1 units

•· I small bottle of Bacardi breezer = 1.1 units

•· 1 small can of Stella = 1.4 units

Also there are lots of empty calories in some alcoholic drinks, so as well as potentially causing health problems, drinking alcohol can also be responsible for you gaining weight.

How to cut down/stop drinking?

There are many small things you can do to cut down the amount of alcohol you drink. You could stop going to the places where you’re more likely to drink, or it might be sensible to hang around with friends who don’t drink much. You could just drink smaller amounts than you usually do, or switch the drink you usually have with one with less strength. (you can see how strong the drink is by the percentage on the bottle/can). These things can help contribute to cutting down the amount of alcohol you drink to less risky levels.

How to get help?

You might need help if you feel as though you need to drink, or if you’re getting into trouble because of your drinking. Realising you have a problem is the first big step in helping yourself, but can often be one of the hardest. The next thing you could do is go to your GP and be completely honest with her/him about how much you drink, so that they may refer you to any local support groups or counselling. Remember that you can talk to your GP in confidence.

Been asked to go to a party?

Useful contacts

NACOA are the National Association for Children of Alcoholics contact via phone (0800 358 3456) or email

Wakefield YDSS is an subsidiary of WMDC Children and Young People (c) Wakefield Council 2013