Embarking on the journey to understand alcohol entails not only the curiosity to learn but also the responsibility to be aware of its effects and the safety precautions one should adhere to. In any concerning situation regarding the immediate health and safety of someone consuming alcohol, it’s imperative to call Triple Zero (000).
Knowing the facts about how alcohol impacts your body and mind can help you make better decisions about drinking, or help you choose whether or not you want to drink at all.
Alcohol can affect different people in different ways. How much alcohol your body can process depends on your age, weight, gender and how you feel at the time.
What is a standard drink?
The definition of a standard drink varies depending on multiple factors: the type of alcohol, its strength, and the size of the glass. Your Room’s standard drinks calculator is a handy tool to get a clearer understanding—it might be more challenging than you anticipate.
Knowing the Effects of Alcohol
A comprehensive understanding of how alcohol impacts both your body and mind is crucial. It aids in making informed decisions about drinking. Resources like Your Room and Reach Out provide detailed insights on the effects of alcohol and binge drinking respectively.
Getting Professional Advice
Concerns about one’s or another individual’s drinking habits should be addressed by consulting a doctor, youth worker, or health service. They provide a starting point to tackle the issue.
The signs of alcohol-related emergencies range from being unable to wake someone up to severe vomiting or irregular breathing. In such cases, calling Triple Zero (000) is essential. It’s also crucial to inform the paramedics about the alcohol or drug intake to get the right help.
Signs of an alcohol-related emergency:
- If you can’t wake someone up.
- If they are vomiting a lot or they can’t stop vomiting.
- If they have an injury or have hit their head from falling over.
- If you think their drink has been ‘spiked’—this means they could be incoherent (not making sense), unable to stand up, or falling in and out of consciousness.
- If they are not breathing regularly or have stopped breathing.
If you can, tell the ambulance paramedics exactly what you or the other person have drunk or taken and how much they have had.
The paramedics are there to help. The right information is important and could save someone’s life.
Tips for safer drinking
Know your facts
Know what the impacts are on your mind and body. Know how much alcohol there is in a standard drink and what a standard drink looks like (it’s probably not what you expect). Most drinks that you buy from a bar or bottle shop have more than one standard drink of alcohol in them. A glass of wine, for example, has around 1.5 standard drinks.
It’s very easy to drink more than you realise. Set yourself a drink limit and stick to it. Drink plenty of water and make sure you eat a meal.
Plan with your mates before you drink
Talk to your friends about what you would do if something goes wrong. Make a plan for what to do if someone gets lost, drinks too much or looks like they have had their drink spiked. Chat about your options and make that decision together before you start drinking.
Mates look after mates
Always look after your mates when you’re drinking. Stick with friends who you trust. If a situation feels wrong, the best option is to leave and go somewhere that you do feel safe.
Look out for drink spiking
Drink spiking happens when someone puts something (extra alcohol or a drug) in a person’s drink without their knowledge or consent. This causes the person to become sleepy, sick, or appear very drunk – even when they haven’t had much to drink. A person who has had their drink spiked is vulnerable. If you think you or your friend have had your drink spiked you need to go to a safe place and ask a friend to stay with you. If you are out, tell security or any staff what has happened. If someone passes out from drink spiking call Triple Zero (000).
Know when to help
If you feel unwell, unsafe, or like you need support always ask for help from someone you trust. If someone has had an injury, have hit their head, or can’t be woken up call Triple Zero (000) immediately.
Getting the alcohol out of your body or ‘sobering up’ takes time, nothing can speed up this process. Injuries and other health concerns can happen when people attempt to sober themselves or someone else up.
Ten per cent of the alcohol in your body leaves in your breath, sweat and urine, but most is broken down by the liver. The liver can only get rid of about one standard drink per hour.
Nothing can speed this up—not even black coffee, cold showers, exercise or vomiting. For more information on myths about alcohol see 7 Myths About Alcohol. Depending on how much you drink, you can still be over the legal limit to drive a car hours after your last drink.
A general guide for remaining under the legal limit to drive is one standard drink per hour for women, or two standard drinks in the first hour and one standard drink every hour after that for men. This is a guide only!
Alcohol behaves differently in everybody even though you may be under the legal limit it still doesn’t mean you are sober enough to drive. Alcohol can remain in your bloodstream much longer than you realise, including the whole next day after a big session. Generally you should wait 12 hours after your last drink before you can safely drive.
Dance Wize NSW have more information on safe drinking practices.
Alcohol related resources
Online resources that can help you learn how to minimise risks to your health and monitor your drinking:
- How alcohol impacts your physical health
- How alcohol impacts your mental health
- How to know how much alcohol you are drinking (what a standard drink looks like)
- How to get personal and private feedback about your alcohol use via the Drinks Meter app
- How to measure if your drinking habits are putting you at risk Your Room quiz
- How to stay safe at Schoolies
- Your Room standard drinks calculator
- WellMob has cultural support and resources made by and for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people
- Youth Law Australia information on the laws around young people and alcohol
- State Library NSW have more information on the laws around young people and alcohol
- Signs you might have a drinking problem
- How alcohol and other drugs impact mental health
- Getting help