Alcohol is a legal depressant drug that reduces the function or activity of a specific part of the body or brain.
Alcohol is a depressant drug affecting the central nervous system; In small doses it can reduce anxiety and lessen inhibitions making you feel more sociable. It can also exaggerate the mood you’re in when you start drinking. It slows down your reaction times and reflexes and effects balance and motor control.
The short-term effects of alcohol can last for a day or two, depending on how much you drank, including the hangover. Long-term effects include damage to body that can take years to develop and this leads to a wide range of serious health problems; these can include liver and kidney problems as well as cancers that you may not realise are due to alcohol.
If consumed within safer drinking limits there is no reason why it cannot be enjoyed safely. For some people any amount of alcohol can be dangerous, for example pregnant women, those with existing health conditions or those taking other prescribed medication.
If your alcohol consumption has caused you serious problems with relationships, finances, health or the criminal justice system or you have undergone an alcohol detoxification you are strongly advised not to drink alcohol at all.
When you make the decision to drink you must be responsible for the amount of alcohol you consume. Drinking above recommended safe limits can leave you in an extremely vulnerable position
Men and Women
The recommended safer drinking limit for a healthy man is up to 14 units a week spread over 4-5 days
A healthy man is one who does not currently suffer any significant health problems or have any problems as a result of their alcohol use.
The recommended safer limits are based on how the male body processes alcohol; the male body has a lower ratio of fat to water than women meaning the alcohol is more diluted in a male body. Men also have a higher level of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) in the liver than women. This means it is a little easier to metabolise alcohol.
The recommended safer drinking limit for a healthy women is up to 14 units a week spread over 4-5 days
A healthy woman is one who does not currently suffer any significant health problems or have any problems as a result of their alcohol use. For example drinking while pregnant is not advisable
The recommended units are based on how the female body processes alcohol; the female body has a higher ratio of fat to water therefore the body is less able to dilute the alcohol. Women have a lower level of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) in the liver than men. This means it is a harder to metabolise alcohol.
Both men and women who recently had a binge or heavy drinking session should allow at least 48 hours for your body to recover.
Binge drinking can be defined as a man consuming 8 or more units in a single session or a woman consuming 6 or more units
According to the NHS binge drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time, or drinking to get drunk. Binge drinking need not be an everyday activity; it can be a drinking pattern that varies, perhaps at weekends or maybe once a month or perhaps heavy drinking for two or three days then no alcohol for a few weeks.
What does a binge look like?
Here are some examples of what would class as a binge – each row represents enough to be a binge but some people drink the equivalent of two or three rows or even all of this in a single session!
Drinking excessively in single sessions leaves you open to a number of risks. There is an increased risk of accidents and of being involved in violence both as a victim or a perpetrator. If you get very drunk there is the risk of inhaling your vomit if you are sick which can lead to suffocation. We also know from NHS information that people who binge drink have an increased risk of suffering a heart attack.
Binge drinking might not mean you’re dependent on alcohol but it can have serious health risks if you regularly drink above the recommended safer limits. It can take a long time, perhaps even years for these health effects to show and by then the damage can be serious.