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Alcohol and Your Body - The Facts

  • Alcohol slows down your brain's control over your breathing. Drinking too much, or an "overdose", can cause your breathing rate to drop dramatically causing unconsciousness. This effect can be fatal. 
  • Alcohol is diluted by the water content of your body. The female body contains more fat and less water, which means there is less water available to dilute the alcohol. This is the why women, generally become intoxicated faster than men. 
  • It takes one hour for your body to get rid off one standard drink. Nothing will speed up this process. Time is the only thing that will help you sober up. 
  • If you are regularly drinking above the recommended safe levels, you are three times as likely to have a stroke if you're a man, and over 13 times as likely if you're a woman. 
  • If you are regularly drinking above the recommended safe levels, you are nearly 8 times as likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver, and three times as likely to develop liver cancer. 
  • Too much drinking can enlarge your liver and constrict the blood vessels between the liver and stomach. This can cause a condition that is, like having internal haemorrhoids (piles). If these swollen blood vessels burst, you can bleed to death within minutes.
  • Injured brain cells can get better, dead ones can't. Depending on the extent of damage, you may get improved functioning of the brain by cutting down your drinking, or stopping altogether. 
  • Brewer's droop (can't get an erection) is not always just a laughing matter and for some can be long term due to many years of alcohol abuse.
  • Sculling or drinking fast is the major cause of death from alcohol poisoning

Alcohol and Driving

Women tend to reach .05 after drinking less alcohol than men. It is safest not to drink at all if you are going to drive.

The following guidelines are recommended to help you stay under .05:

  • Women - no more than one standard drink per hour
  • Men - no more than 2 standard drinks in the first hour, and one standard drink every hour after that.

Note: people should be aware of their own limits!

If you are unsure of you ability to drive safely, don't drive! Call a taxi, stay the night, or catch a ride with someone who has not been drinking.

Drinking to Minimise Harm

New guidelines for drinking alcohol were released in 2009. Research identified that alcohol has a significant place in Australian Culture, however a proportion of the population consume alcohol at levels which increase risks of alcohol related harms. These harms cause a burden on the health systems as well as eroding the health of communities, through injury death and disease. These guidelines are for a range of the Australian population.

Guideline 1: Reducing the risk of alcohol-related over a lifetime.

The lifetime risk of harm from drinking alcohol increases with the amount consumed.

For healthy men or women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day reduces the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol related disease or injury.

Guideline 2: Reducing the risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking

On a single occasion of drinking, the risk of alcohol related injury increases with the amount consumed

For health men and women, drinking no more than four standard drinks on any one occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury arising from one occasion.

Guideline 3: Children and young people under 18 years of age

For children and young people less than 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the best option.

A: Parents and carers should be advised that children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking and that for this age group, not drinking alcohol is particularly important.

B: For young people aged 15-17 years, the safest option is to delay the initiation of drinking as long as possible.

Guideline 4: Pregnancy and breast feeding

Maternal alcohol consumption can harm the developing fetus or breastfeeding baby.

A: For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option.

B: For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option.

For further information you can view he Australian Guidelines to reduce health risks from Drinking Alcohol here

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)

For the General Public - Ph: 1800 131 350

What does this service provide?

ADIS provides 24-hour 7-day telephone counselling, information and referral for people with an alcohol or drug problem. People can access:

  • Immediate counselling and support including crisis intervention
  • Support in dealing with the impact of drug use on the family
  • Information on how to reduce the harm associated with drug use
  • Information and referral to treatment and support services across the NT

Who can use this service?

People of all ages and backgrounds - anyone in the community who is affected by alcohol or drug use, eg: people using drugs, concerned family members and friends as well as health care professionals.

Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS)

For Clinicians - Ph: 1800 111 092

What is the drug and alcohol clinical advisory service?

A 24-hour 7-day telephone service that provides advice to health professionals on the clinical management of drug and alcohol issues.

Who can use the service?

The service is available to health professionals in the NT who have concerns about patients with alcohol and other drug problems.

Who provides the information and advice?

Senior drug and alcohol Medical Consultants, Nursing Specialists, Clinical Psychologists, Social Workers and Occupational Therapists staff the service.

What does this service provide?

The service offers prompt clinical advise on the diagnosis and management of persons with drug and alcohol problems, including:

  • the clinical management of intoxicated patients
  • the clinical management of complications arising from drug and alcohol use
  • determining appropriate treatment options for patients with alcohol and other drug related problems.

Further Resources