People often do not realise that alcohol is a harmful substance when it is consumed to excess. Alcohol is a drug and a drug is a chemical which causes changes in the way the human body functions, either mentally, physically or emotionally. Instead of being a stimulant as believed by many people, alcohol is a depressant. It removes inhibitions giving the impression it is a stimulant. It is a depressant drug which puts the brain to sleep when taken in large quantities.
There is no defined safe amount to drink. The health guidelines for low risk drinking suggest it is acceptable for men to drink up to 21 units and women to drink up to 14 units per week. If drinking the guide weekly allocation, this should be spread over the course of the week with a couple of alcohol free days to “rest” your liver. One unit of alcohol is the equivalent of a half pint of beer, a pub measure of spirits or a glass (100ml) of wine.
No. Alcohol will only leave your system when it is broken down by the liver and nothing can speed this up. Taking coffee will make you feel more alert because it is a stimulant but will not reduce your alcohol level.
You can become dependent on alcohol regardless of what type of alcoholic drinks you take. Alcohol is an addictive drug and you can develop addiction if you take excessive amounts.
Excessive use of alcohol can cause cancer with one in ten cancers in men and one in thirty three cancers in women resulting from alcohol consumption. The types of cancers include oral, larynx, liver, oesophagus and colorectum. Female breast cancer can also be caused by alcohol.
There is no safe level of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. Research has shown that alcohol can cause harm to the development of the unborn child, causing a condition called Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Dependant on the volume of alcohol intake during pregnancy, varying degrees of harm can result e.g. behavioural and development problems and physical disability in more extreme cases. It is safest to avoid alcohol while pregnant.
Yes, age is an important factor in alcohol consumption. Many young people experiment with alcohol even in their early teens. During adolescence and early adulthood, the liver is still developing and consuming alcohol can cause liver damage, impairing its function and even resulting in cirrhosis. Also, in later life the liver function slows down and it becomes more difficult for the liver to break down alcohol so it is advisable to reduce alcohol intake as you get older.
There is strong statistical evidence to support the view that alcohol misuse has damaging consequences. For example, one in three road deaths is alcohol related. One in four Accident and Emergency admissions to hospital has an alcohol-related cause. Alcohol has been shown to be a contributory factor in 97% of public order offences recorded by the Garda via the PULSE system