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Ethyl alcohol, ethanol, alcoholic drink, booze, grog, liquor, hooch, moonshine, dutch courage, shot, cocktail, tipple, methanol, hard stuff, poison
People have drunk alcohol the world over for millennia. It is produced from the distillation of fermented grains, fruit or vegetables. In New Zealand, alcohol is a legal but regulated substance.
Drinking alcohol will make you feel relaxed, more confident, and sociable. It will also reduce your ability to concentrate and slow your coordination and reflexes. The effects depend on your weight, metabolism and when you last ate.
Using more alcohol (getting drunk) can bring on unpleasant effects including nausea, vomiting and inability to control your bladder or bowels. Some people become physically or sexually aggressive when they drink too much, and feelings of relaxation can give way to moodiness and inability to control emotions.
After drinking a lot, most people experience a ‘hangover’. This is partly because alcohol dehydrates the body; causing thirstiness, headaches, nausea and tiredness. In some people a hangover can also bring on feelings of anxiety and depression.
All drug use brings a risk of harm. Before heading out, know your limits and plan your night. Know how you are getting home, or where you are staying. It is a good idea to be with a group of people you know and trust when going out. Make sure at least one person remains sober in case things go wrong. Alcohol can stop your body from regulating temperature, and people have died from falling asleep outside on a cold night after drinking too much.
Eat a healthy meal before drinking and make sure food and water or non-alcoholic drinks are available where you are going. Other tips include:
Drinking a lot of over a short period of time increases your chance of alcohol poisoning, which is serious and can result in death.
Signs of alcohol poisoning include: confusion, being unable to wake up, vomiting and seizures, slow or irregular breathing, hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin colour and/or paleness.
You should call 111 for an ambulance immediately if these symptoms are present.
You may be experiencing substance use disorder if you are:
If you are thinking about cutting down, you could start by buying less so you use less, delaying your first drink of the day, and drinking a smaller amount than usual. If you want help cutting down, start by talking to your friends or family about your plan and ask for their support. You can also call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 for confidential, non-judgmental expert advice. GPs can also provide information and advice.
Alcohol affects young people differently to adults. Our brains are developing until we turn 25. Younger people may experience less of the physical signs of drunkenness and more of the emotional effects, like reduced shyness in social settings. This means younger people drinking alcohol could be more likely to do things they wouldn’t usually do.
All alcohol labelling lists the percentage of alcohol in the beverage and the number of standard drinks contained. This is a good way to monitor how much you are drinking. Remember that a glass of wine or beer served at a bar or restaurant may contain more than one standard drink.
You should avoid driving, operating machinery or doing anything dangerous if you have been drinking. If you are younger than 20 it is illegal to have any alcohol in your system when driving. For those older than 20 the limit is a blood alcohol content of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood breath, or 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath.
Drinking too much over a long period causes damage to your nervous system, brain, and memory, and can also lead to high blood pressure, enlarged heart and irregular pulse. Drinking can also lead to liver disease and cancer, both of which can be painful and cause death. Other long-term effects include damage to organs like your stomach, pancreas, muscle tissue and bowel and greater likelihood of getting cancer in these and other areas.