Alcohol and the law
Use is legal; however,
- It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy alcohol.
- It is illegal to supply someone under the age of 18 with
- It is an offence to give a child under the age of five alcohol.
- 16 year olds can drink beer or cider (but not
spirits) in a pub if they are having a meal.
What is alcohol?
Alcohol is a liquid drug that is extremely powerful and addictive.
All alcoholic drinks contain ethanol which is pure
alcohol. Alcohol consumption is measured in units and
the strength of alcohol uses the term ABV (alcohol by volume)
describes what percentage of total liquid is alcohol.
What are the effects?
Alcohol is a depressant and in small amounts it can help
you to relax and become more talkative. In large amounts
people slur their speech and become loud and annoying.
It can make some people happy and others upset or aggressive.
The effects of alcohol also depend upon how quickly you drink
it, whether you have eaten any food, your body weight and
your mood before drinking. For example, if you feel
sad before drinking, alcohol may make you more depressed.
When do the effects start and how long do they last?
The effects start within about 5 -10 minutes of drinking and
can last a few hours depending on how much you drink.
Stronger drinks like spirits and
fizzy drinks like alcopops are absorbed quicker into the bloodstream
therefore they take effect quicker.
What are the risks?
If you drink too much you can pass out, be sick or both which
can be very dangerous. It can cause you to be depressed,
anxious, angry and suicidal and can lead to memory loss.
It can cause alcohol poisoning, liver damage, stomach and
pancreas disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease, brain
damage and can increase the risk of some forms of cancer.
It is linked to social problems such as domestic violence
and violent crimes. Relationships can also suffer and
if you drink more and more you will suffer from withdrawal
symptoms such as sweating, trembling, delirium and anxiety.
Women who drink increase their risk of developing breast
cancer and if alcohol is consumed during pregnancy it can
lead to birth defects. In men too much alcohol can
cause low testosterone levels, low sex drive, impotence and
low sperm count.
The trend apparent in younger people is binge-drinking.
This is classified as drinking more than six units in six
hours and can causer blood pressure to rise, which, according
to the NHS, can increase your risk of suffering a stroke.
Drinking too much alcohol lowers your inhibitions and users
need to be careful not to end up in sexual situations that
they wouldn't normally think about being in if they were sober.
Alcohol should never be mixed with any other drugs
as it can lead to fatal overdoses.
Is it addictive?
Alcohol is extremely addictive. Regular drinking can lead
to a tolerance, meaning you need to drink more and more to
get the same effect.
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