Alcohol slows down your coordination, judgement and response
time. Alcohol will not necessarily make you feel depressed, but it
can exaggerate the mood you were in before you started to drink. If
you have a mental health issue like depression, alcohol can make
these feelings stronger.
What's a standard drink?
Many different alcoholic drinks are available. Some are 'easier'
to drink than others - for example if they taste sweet - but
remember they all contain alcohol.
We measure the amount of alcohol in 'standard drinks', with one
standard drink containing 10 grams of pure alcohol.
One Standard Drink
Full strength beer
Three-quarters of a 375ml stubbie, or one 285ml
100ml - a small glass
Alcoholic soda (e.g. 'Breezers')
Two-thirds of a 330ml bottle
Shots of spirit/liqueur
30ml (a shot)
What's the limit?
Australian medical experts (National Health and Medical Research
Centre Council) recommend the following:
- Both males and females over the age of 18 should not have more
than two standard drinks a day in order to reduce the lifetime risk
of harm from alcohol-related diseases or injury
- Both males and females over the age of 18 should not drink more
than four standard drinks on a single occasion in order to reduce
the risk of an immediate alcohol-related injury
- Those under 15 years are at greatest risk of harm from
- 15-17 years should delay their first drink for as long as
possible, but if they do drink to do so in a safe environment (e.g.
supervised by adults)
Drinks should not be consumed quickly (no more than two drinks
in the first hour for males, and no more than one drink an hour for
Take special care if you are taking medication, are pregnant, or
will be driving, operating machinery or doing something that is
risky or needs concentration.
What are the immediate effects of alcohol?
The effects of alcohol depend on things like your age, sex and
body weight; your general health; how regularly you drink; what you
are drinking; how much you drink and how quickly; and whether you
have eaten. The effects also depend on the mood you were in when
you started drinking, and the circumstances at the time (for
example, whether you are alone or with friends). Drinking while
using other drugs can have unpredictable effects.
Drinking too much can cause lots of short-term problems, like
headaches, feeling sick and vomiting, feeling dizzy, dehydration,
passing out, and generally feeling 'hung over'.
What are the risks?
Being drunk can lead to aggressiveness and getting into fights,
having unsafe sex, and being vulnerable to assault and rape. There
are also extreme risks associated with drink driving, including
being killed or seriously injured - and killing or injuring someone
else. It is also possible to overdose and die from alcohol
How can alcohol affect my health?
Too much alcohol can also lead to long-term health problems,
ranging from brain damage to liver and heart damage, stomach ulcers
and a higher cancer risk.
It can also lead to you being dependent on alcohol. Being able to
'hold' your drink might be a sign that you are developing a
Is occasional binge drinking OK?
Some people think that because they don't drink every day, there
is no real problem with heavy drinking (binge drinking) maybe once
a week. In fact, the short-term risks, including alcohol poisoning,
are still worse than with moderate drinking.
How can I limit the amount I drink?
Sometimes it's hard to say 'no' to alcohol, especially if
everyone around you is drinking. Here are some hints to help you
limit the amount you drink:
- eat before drinking and while you are drinking
- drink water in between alcoholic drinks
- finish your drink before topping it up, so you can keep
- don't drink by yourself
- leave early if you think you are going to drink too much
- take small sips, and drink slowly
- know your limits
- try having days and weekends without drinking
- avoid drinking if you have school, uni or work the next
- drink low-alcohol drinks
- avoid rounds (or shouts)
How do I know when alcohol is a problem?
Here are some signs that your drinking might be a problem:
- not being able to concentrate and difficulties with study or
- often feeling hung-over
- thinking about drinking more often than not
- feeling on edge
- having to drink more to feel the effect of alcohol
- not being able to stop when you want to.
If you, or your friends or family, think your drinking is a
problem, then take it seriously and talk about it. It's not always
easy to change your drinking patterns, but other people can
help. Try speaking with a trusted family member or friend.
Otherwise doctors and counsellors can help as well. Check out
help section to find services near you.