Alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances in Wales and the UK.
Alcohol is classed a depressant drug, meaning that when consumed, it can depress your central nervous system, leading to slower breathing and heart rate. It can also affect your coordination and slower you reactions. Below are some simple tips and techniques to reduce the risks and harms if you intend to drink alcohol.
- 14 units per week. It is advised that both males and females should not exceed consuming more than 14 units a week. This is equivalent to 6 pints of medium-strength beer or 10 small glasses of wine. If you intend to drink up to 14 units of alcohol a week, it is advised to spread this amount over the 7-day period and to have more alcohol-free days than alcohol-fuelled. On average it takes your body 1 hour to process 1 unit of alcohol. Regularly drinking above this recommended limit can increase the risk of experiencing negative effects associated to alcohol use such as health problems and dependency.
- Don’t mix alcohol. Avoid mixing drugs with alcohol. It can lead to unpredictable and unwanted side effects. Alcohol can cause prescribed medications not to work effectively; it can increase the risk of an overdose, such as when used alongside valium or heroin; and it can also cause interactions within your body, such as when consumed with cocaine, it can lead to your liver producing cocaethylene, a more toxic drug than either alcohol or cocaine separately. Mixing different alcoholic drinks can also increase the risk of making you feel ill.
- Eating isn’t cheating. If you intend to drink alcohol, try and consume a substantial meal beforehand. This will help your body process the alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach can lead you to feeling unwell.
- Keep hydrated. Aim to be as hydrated as possible, by drinking water before you start drinking alcohol. Alternate your alcoholic drinks with soft drinks, such as water or orange juice, during your session too. One of the main causes and symptoms of a hangover is dehydration.
- Look after your mates. Alcohol affects people in different ways. If a friend is experiencing negative effects due to alcohol use, take them to a quiet place, help them get home safely and if they fall asleep, put them in the recovery position and regularly check on them, to avoid them choking on their own vomit.
- Drinking out? If you are intending to go out to the pubs or clubs, avoid buying drinks in rounds. It can not only become expensive but you are also more likely to drink alcohol quicker than if you bought your own drinks at your own pace. Make sure you know how you are getting home safely too. A good tip is to keep some money back at home, just in case you spend it all on your night out, so you can still afford a taxi.
- Drinking at home? Our measurements when pouring our drinks at home don’t tend to be accurate as we tend to measure by ‘eye’. Therefore you may be more likely to consume more alcohol than you intend. You can buy measuring cups or spirit measures to help you dose more accurately.
- Start Low Go Slow. If you have never drank alcohol before or you have had an extended break, your tolerance could be quite low. Therefore you don’t need to consume much to start feeling the effects. If you drink quickly, or a lot, you are more likely to feel adverse effects such as feeling sick or becoming unconscious.
- Think about consent and safe sex. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions and adversely affects your decision making. In the event of where you may have sex, ensure each person involved consents before and during sex. If someone says no, it means no. Also, be prepared. If you do end up having sex, carry contraception such as condoms or dams, to reduce the risk of transmitting and contracting various infections and viruses. Free condoms are available from any of our services. You can also get free home STI testing kits from Frisky Wales.
- Reach out if you are worried. If you are worried about your own, or a loved one’s alcohol use, get in touch with your local service. Here at Barod, we provide free, confidential support to anyone affected by substance use. You can chat to a trained support worker via our Live Webchat Service too. If you are over 50, you can access the dedicated helpline supporting those affected by alcohol use, by calling 0808 801 0750 or clicking here for more information.
To gain an understanding of how much you are drinking, how it compares to other people and for instant feedback, why not check out the Drinks Meter.
You can also check out some of our top harm reduction tips for other drugs by clicking on each of the substances below:
Ecstasy (Coming Soon)
Heroin (Coming Soon)