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Immediate effects

  • Alcohol is a depressant drug that slows the rate that messages move to and from your brain. Reaction time, hearing, vision and senses are negatively affected by alcohol, which increases the risk of accident and injury.
  • Drinking a small amount of alcohol can make you feel confident, happy and relaxed. This can quickly change to more intense mood swings like aggression or depression.
  • If you drink alcohol to excess you’re likely to experience some negative physical effects such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, shakiness, hangovers or alcohol poisoning.
  • Alcohol affects your coordination, reflexes and your judgement and increases the risk of injury. When you’re drunk, you’re more likely to put yourself in a risky situation like getting into a car with someone who’s been drinking, running out onto roads, climbing dangerous structures, swimming in dangerous water, getting into fights, or hooking up with someone you didn't want to.

Long term effects

Continuous heavy drinking over a long period of time can lead to:

  • Physical and psychological dependence on alcohol and tolerance to the effects of alcohol. Just because you’re increasing your tolerance to alcohol doesn’t mean you’re not putting yourself at risk of harm.
  • Serious damage to your brain including an increased risk of neurological disorders such as poor coordination, pain or paralysis.
  • Risk of cancer of the liver, mouth, throat or oesophagus.
  • Possible increased risk of heart problems including strokes and sexual problems such as male impotency.
  • Early onset or reoccurrence of emotional and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
  • Alcohol-related brain injury can lead to poor decision making, concentration and memory, impacting on academic results, future employment and income.
  • Financial difficulties.
  • Frequent skin problems and infections.
  • Family problems, relationship breakdown and loss of friends.

Sobering up myths

You cannot make your body process alcohol faster. You have to wait for the alcohol to be processed by your liver. For a healthy adult, it can take around 1 hour for each standard drink to be processed.

Some common sobering up myths include:

  • Drinking coffee.
  • Taking a cold shower.
  • Drinking milk.
  • Eating bread or greasy fast food.
  • Sleeping in.
  • Drinking water.
  • Going for a run.

Watch the panel show

sober up facts video
What can you do to sober up quicker?

physical dangers video
Why is it physically dangerous for young people to drink?

Drinking and my body
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Drink too much and you are likely to suffer dizziness, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, shakiness, hangovers or alcohol poisoning.
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