Want To Learn More?

Why does alcohol affect men and women differently?

Basically, women have less body water than men and less of the enzyme (ADH) which breaks down alcohol in their tummies and liver – so women tend to get drunk quicker as their blood alcohol content rises quicker.

How does alcohol make you feel drunk?

When you’re drunk you feel giddy, slur your speech, feel unsteady, your vision blurs and you’ll often be sick.

Alcohol (ethanol) circulates in your blood stream, organs and brain until your liver has had a chance to break it down (it can manage about a unit an hour). Ethanol molecules are so small they can pass into the gaps between brain cells, slowing down reactions, affecting coordination, judgement, speech and balance. Alcohol also affects the part of the brain responsible for self-control – which normally stops you doing something risky or aggressive. Alcohol also irritates the stomach which is what can make you sick.

How does alcohol leave the body?

About 90% of alcohol is broken down by the liver into CO2 and water, about 2-4% via your kidneys (as wee), 2-6% via your sweat and 2-6% via your breath and saliva!

Is any alcohol bad for you if you’re an adult?

Unlike smoking, when any smoking is bad for you, small amounts of alcohol – basically a drink a day or two (up to 14 units a week) can form part of a healthy lifestyle – it’s all about getting the balance right. Binge drinking ( five or more drinks in quick succession) is really bad for health both short and long term and drinking heavily on a regular basis increases your risk of all sorts of diseases including some cancers and liver disease.

What is a hangover?

Alcohol is dehydrating – it makes your body and brain lose water, so symptoms of a hangover include feeling thirsty, sick, tired, having a headache and being sensitive to noise and light. The best way to avoid one is to limit how much you drink, eat before you out and to drink plenty of water or soft drinks throughout the evening.

Why can’t you drink if you’re pregnant?

In short, alcohol crosses the placenta directly to the unborn baby. People who drink heavily when they’re pregnant risk their baby being born with FASD – foetal alcohol syndrome disorder. This completely preventable disorder is incurable and includes facial abnormalities and lifelong learning disabilities.

Can you be allergic to alcohol?

Some people, especially from South East Asia, lack the gene that breaks down alcohol, because of this drinking any alcohol leads to them feeling very sick and having a very red face as they can’t break down the toxin in alcohol called acetaldehyde. Others can have a reaction to red wine for example, and we think this is linked to a histamine trigger. Always seek advice from your GP if you are worried.

If I’m worried about someone drinking too much can I get help or advice?

If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, there are free, confidential services that will help you.  See our Help and Advice section for details of who to contact

Some people become addicted to alcohol – why does it only happen to some people?

There is alcohol tolerance and alcohol addiction. Alcohol tolerance is when you need more and more alcohol to feel drunk. Addiction is when you can no longer cope without alcohol. You feel you have to drink, without alcohol you feel sick, start trembling and feel wretched. That’s why addiction is so difficult to overcome. Doctors believe that some people are genetically more likely to become addicted, but it can also be affected by unhappiness,  extreme stress or mental illness.