Alcohol is a liquid produced by fermentation. Further processing produces alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, cider and spirits.
Booze, grog, piss.
What does it look like?
Pure alcohol has no colour. It has a very strong taste that feels like a burning sensation. Alcoholic drinks vary in colour and taste depending on their ingredients and how they are made.
Why is it used?
In Australia, alcohol is used for social and cultural reasons. Many Australians drink alcohol with meals, to celebrate special occasions and to help them relax and to have fun.
An Australian standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol (12.5ml of pure alcohol). By counting standard drinks you can keep track of how much you are drinking. Read more about standard drinks.
The effects of any drug (including alcohol) vary from person to person. How alcohol affects a person depends on many things including their size, weight and health, also whether the person is used to it and whether other drugs are taken. The effects of any drug also depend on the amount taken.After a few drinks—more relaxed, reduced concentration and slower reflexes.
A few more drinks—lowered inhibitions, more confidence, reduced coordination, slurred speech, intense mood (sad, happy, angry).
Still more drinks—confusion, blurred vision, poor muscle control.
More still—nausea, vomiting, sleep.
Even more—possibly coma or death.
There is no safe level of alcohol use. Use of alcohol or other drugs always carries some risk—even medications can produce unwanted side effects. It is important to be careful when taking any type of drug including alcohol.
The effects of alcohol on the brain occur within five minutes of alcohol being drunk.
When someone drinks heavily, they may experience a range of symptoms the following day. These symptoms are called a hangover and may include:
Sobering up takes time. The liver gets rid of about one standard drink an hour. Cold showers, exercise, black coffee, mints, fresh air or vomiting will not speed up the process. Someone who drinks a lot at night, may still be affected by alcohol the following day.
Some of the long-term effects of drinking more than the recommended guidelines include:
Other effects of alcohol use
Taking alcohol with other drugs
The effects of mixing alcohol with other drugs, including over-the-counter or prescribed medications, can be unpredictable and dangerous. Always read the instructions or seek advice from a health professional before mixing alcohol with medications.
All areas of a person's life can be affected by alcohol use.
Men and women
At low levels of drinking there is little difference between men and women. However, at higher levels of drinking:
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Alcohol and the workplace
People who drink heavily on a regular basis may become dependent on alcohol. They may also develop a tolerance to it, which means they need to drink larger amounts of alcohol to get the same effect.
If a dependent person stops drinking alcohol, they may have withdrawal symptoms because their body has to get used to functioning without alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms usually start about 4–12 hours after the last drink and can continue for about 4–5 days. These symptoms include sweating, tremors, nausea and anxiety.
Withdrawal from alcohol carries the risk of seizures or fits. Medical assistance may be required to help the person get through withdrawal safely.
In Australia, there are many different types of treatments for drug problems. Some aim to help a person to stop using a drug, while others aim to reduce the risks and harm related to their drug use. Find out more about treatment.
What to do if you are concerned about someone’s alcohol use
If you are concerned about someone’s alcohol use, there is help available. Contact the alcohol and drug information service in your state or territory.
What to do in a crisis
Always call triple zero (000) if an overdose is known or suspected—and remember that paramedics are not obliged to involve the police.
Watch a short infographic video about alcohol, young people and preventing harm.
According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, in 2010, alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia.
Alcohol and the law
There are laws that govern how alcohol may be used. These laws may differ, depending on the state, territory or local area. For example, in some areas local by-laws make it illegal to drink alcohol in public places such as beaches, parks and streets.
For legal advice specific to your situation contact a legal aid service in your state or territory.
National drug policy
Australia’s national drug policy is based on harm minimisation. Strategies to minimise harm include encouraging people to avoid using a drug, through to helping people to reduce the risk of harm if they do use a drug. It aims to reduce all types of drug-related harm to both the individual and the community.
Educational resources on alcohol
Last updated: 30 January 2013
The following content is from DrugInfo dot ADF dot org dot au
Information you heard is intended as a general guide only. This audio is copyrighted by the Australian Drug Foundation. Visit www.DrugInfo.ADF.org.au for more