Fact or Fiction?
How much do you know about alcohol?
You can always sleep off a hangover and feel all right the next day
False. Hangovers can last for a lot longer than just the morning after. Advice for adults is that after a lot of alcohol has been consumed, they shouldn’t drink alcohol for another 48 hours to let the body recover.
Adding fruit juice or mixers to spirits reduces the effect of the alcohol
No, adding mixers will make the alcohol taste less strong and will give you a longer drink – but you’ll still be drinking the same amount of alcohol. Having a longer drink should make the drink last longer though, so adding ice and plenty of mixer is good move.
It’s impossible to know how much alcohol is in a bottle of drink
False. The amount of alcohol is usually shown on the drinks container, but you can calculate it yourself.
- ½ pint = 1 unit
- 1 shot = 1 unit
- glass of wine = 2 units
- 1 pint OR double vodka OR glass wine = 2 units
Women tend to be more affected by alcohol than men.
True. Alcohol is distributed around the body in water. The female body has less body water and less of the enzyme which breaks down alcohol in the stomach and liver than the male body. So, alcohol concentrations are higher in females and therefore girls tend to get drunk faster than boys.
A glass of beer, a glass of wine and a shot of spirits contain the same amount of pure alcohol
False. It depends on the size of the glass, the strength of the drink (e.g. there are strong beers and weaker beers) and how full the glass is.
If you drink alcohol on a full stomach you will get less drunk
Eating before or while drinking is a good idea as food slows down the rate you absorb alcohol into the bloodstream, This gives your body more time to break down the alcohol in your stomach.
The best advice is to eat before or while drinking, and to pace yourself with soft drinks or water between alcoholic drinks if you choose to drink when you’re older.
Drinking plenty of water may reduce the effect of a hangover
True. Many of the effects of a hangover come about because alcohol dehydrates the body. There is no cure and waiting until it has gone is the only thing you can do. However, drinking plenty of water and keeping off alcohol for at least the next 48 hours helps the body to recover.
Drinking coffee or having a shower sobers you up and stops you getting a hangover
Nothing can speed up the break down of alcohol in your blood stream except time and plenty of water. Even one or two drinks will affect your coordination, judgement and reactions, which is why it’s against the law to drink and drive.
A hangover can’t be cured, although some people believe a strong coffee, a cold shower or fizzy drinks can help. In fact, time is the only cure, allowing the liver to break down the alcohol from your system (about one drink an hour). This is helped along by drinking lots of water.
Symptoms of a hangover include feeling thirsty, sick, tired and headachey, and being more sensitive to noise and bright lights. This is because alcohol makes the body lose water, causing dehydration. Alcohol also irritates the lining of the stomach, leading to feeling sick and thirsty.
People are more likely to take risks after drinking alcohol
True. Alcohol affects judgement so, after drinking alcohol, people tend to have fewer inhibitions and this can lead to risky behaviour
People who drink a lot of alcohol on a regular basis may become tolerant, and even addicted, to it
True. Someone who regularly drinks an excessive amount of alcohol may have to drink even more to get the same effect, and this can lead to addiction.
Alcohol affects everyone in the same way
Your size, weight, age, whether you’re male or female as well as how quickly and when you drink (with food or on an empty tummy) will all alter how alcohol affects you.
Drinking on an empty stomach or drinking fast, results in alcohol rushing into your bloodstream faster and feeling the effects of alcohol more quickly. This will also be affected by your size weight, health and age. Being very tired, ill or stressed may affect a person’s reaction to alcohol.
Pregnant women are advised to limit the amount of alcohol they drink
True. Alcohol crosses the placenta and can harm the developing foetus. This is called FAS (Foetal Alcohol Syndrome).
The excessive consumption of alcohol carries health risks
True. If someone drinks a lot in a short space of time they can increase the risk of accidents and injury. In high doses it can result in alcohol poisoning, leading to coma or even death. In the long term, drinking a lot of alcohol regularly can lead to numerous diseases, such as cancer and liver cirrhosis. These can be fatal.
Alcohol affects different people in different ways
It’s true – alcohol does affect each person differently.
Alcohol quickly enters the bloodstream and travels through the body. It affects parts of the brain that deal with thinking – so alcohol makes the person feel relaxed and less shy – or out of character Alcohol also affects speech, co-ordination and vision. That’s why someone who drinks too much can find themselves slurring, stumbling and struggling to focus.
How alcohol affects someone depends on how much they drink, their size and what they’ve eaten (food in the stomach slows down the rate at which alcohol enters the bloodstream). It also depends on how fast you drink and how high in alcohol the drink is. The body can only break down one small drink an hour (one shot, ½ pint).
Whether you’re male or female also has an effect, women have less body water and so tend to get drunk faster than men.
Alcoholic drinks contain the same amount of alcohol
False! You can’t tell by the look or smell of a drink how much alcohol is in it
In the UK, drinks are measured in units are the official measurement of alcohol in the UK.
Some strong beers contain nearly 3 units per pint rather than the 2 units found in ordinary strength lager. The measures may vary too (a ‘double’ vodka will have double the units), while a large glass of wine (175ml) can be over 2 units. It’s also impossible to tell how much alcohol is in cocktails, unless you’ve mixed them yourself.
Many alcoholic drinks containers now contain unit information on the back label, helping you keep track. (put in icons of unit drinks that Robina has done)
The UK Government advises that adult men drink no more than three to four units a day and women no more than two to three. There are NO safe limits for those under 18.
Drinking to get drunk doesn’t hurt anyone
False! Drinking to get drunk is bad news for anyone’s body. It can affect the person’s body and their behaviour and this can have serious consequences for others.
Drinking a lot can be harmful because the human body can’t process a lot of alcohol at once. In the UK, drinking to get drunk is called ‘binge drinking’
Getting drunk has physical effects – feeling ill, seeing double, losing co-ordination and having trouble standing up. But drinking alcohol also affects a person’s judgement – they might get more emotional and make bad decisions, or do or say something they regret later. Drinking a lot in one session can lead to unconsciousness, and even death.
After drinking alcohol, people may put others in danger too. Alcohol is a factor in 20-30% of all accidents. Over a third of pedestrians killed in road accidents were found to be drunk, and around 13-15% (1 in every 7) of 15–16 year-olds have been involved in an accident or been injured as a result of drinking alcohol. Alcohol can also lead to violence – 47% of all victims of violence said their attacker was affected by alcohol at the time*.
Adults can drink whatever they like
False! drinking any alcohol at all can sometimes be dangerous for adults.
Alcohol affects every part of the body. It slows down judgement and reaction times, and makes them less co-ordinated. This can be very dangerous in certain situations, such as driving. That’s why there are strict laws about how much alcohol can be in a person’s blood if they’re driving. But it’s difficult to work this out, so it’s best for drivers to avoid any alcohol beforehand. People should also avoid alcohol if they’re operating machinery or working at a height.
Pregnant women should avoid drinking because alcohol affects the developing baby. Alcohol can also be dangerous for people who are swimming, doing active sport or taking medication.
Some people never get ‘hangovers’
False! Anyone who drinks too much alcohol is on the way to a ‘hangover’ the day after and there’s no escaping it whatever people say!
A hangover includes feeling thirsty, sick, tired and headachy, and being more sensitive to noise and bright lights. These effects are caused by alcohol acting as a ‘diuretic’. This means that alcohol makes the body lose too much water, causing dehydration. Alcohol also irritates the lining of the stomach, which can lead to indigestion and vomiting.
Some people may be able to drink more than others without suffering a hangover, but EVERYONE’s body will react to being overloaded with too much alcohol. The liver can’t process lots of alcohol at once, so the body will take a long time to get rid of the effects of a big drinking session. A hangover can’t be cured, although some people say a strong coffee, a cold shower or fizzy drinks can help. In fact, time is the only cure, allowing the liver to get on with its job, helped along by drinking lots of water and some healthy food and rest.
It’s legal for me to ask an adult to buy alcohol for me if I’m underage
False! This is called buying by proxy and can get friends or siblings over 18 into a lot of trouble – an £80 fine or caution by the police! You can drink alcohol at home with parental permission under the age of 18.
Most 11- 15 year olds haven’t even tried alcohol
True! 6 in 10 11-15 year olds haven’t even tried alcohol – and when they do, it tends to be with the family or relatives on a special occasion – not at a party. The truth is, it’s not really cool for older teenagers to get drunk any more, binge drinking has halved over the last ten years in the UK – most people want to enjoy a drink or two as part of the evening and not let too much spoil it.
If you stop drinking alcohol and switch to soft drinks or coffee you will be OK to drive after an hour
False! Coffee or water may make you feel better, but they don’t affect the amount of alcohol in your blood stream – only time can break down the alcohol – about one unit – ( a shot or half pint) and hour. So an adult could be over the drink drive limit the next morning if they’ve drunk a lot the night before.
The liver breaks down most of the alcohol in your body
True! Your liver has lots of functions, and one is to break down toxins from alcohol into water and C02, but it can only get rid of 1 unit an hour – if you drink more or quickly the rest of the alcohol will circulate around your body, brain and organs until the liver has had time to do its job. If you drink too much alcohol for a number of years it also damages the liver and stops it working properly which can result in alcoholic liver disease which can be fatal.