Alcohol: Good or Bad?
The bad news...
Alcohol is widely available, well-advertised and can sometimes be seen as an ‘acceptable drug’ due the amount of people that use it regularly. BUT this doesn’t mean it cannot be harmful like other drugs are.
There are many short and long term consequences to drinking alcohol:
- Vomiting – too much alcohol can cause you to vomit, if you don’t drink often it won’t take much alcohol to get you to this level
- Having a hangover – Made plans for the next day? Scrap them!
- Alcohol poisoning – Did you know alcohol is a poison? If you drink a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time the alcohol levels in your blood will become too high and will start to affect your body’s vital functions. In serious cases you can stop breathing, choke on your own vomit or fall into a coma.
- Weight gain – alcohol has a lot of calories in it, in fact one pint of beer equals the same calories as a reasonably sized slice of pizza
- Mood swings – alcohol is a depressant, it can cause you to feel miserable, this in turn affects relationships with friends and family
- Disturbed sleep – alcohol can affect your sleeping patterns, lack of decent sleep in turn affects your mental state
- Accidents – you are more likely to have an accident and injure yourself
- Liver disease
- Mental illness
- Premature ageing
- Bowl or Liver cancer
- Heart disease
- Impotence in men
Alcohol makes you feel more confident, cause you to lose your inhibitions and impair your judgement leading you to take more risks. You may regret these risks once you are sober, some examples are having unprotected sex, drink driving or committing crime such as criminal damage. You might also put yourself at risk of having crimes committed against you such as being robbed, attached or sexually assaulted.
It's not all bad!
We're not saying don't drink alcohol EVER (although remember the legal drinking age is 18), alcohol can be an enjoyable thing, a cheeky social pint with a friend on the weekend can be awesome. All we're saying is be careful whilst drinking and try not to drink too frequently, the key is drinking responsibly and knowing your limits.
You don't drink?...So what!
Remember, not everyone drinks alcohol, it’s okay to never drink it, it’s YOUR choice. If you feel pressured to drink it’s okay to just say no and walk away, if they are your real friends they wouldn’t make you do anything you didn’t want to do. You may find that if you say no, make a joke of the situation and tease your friends for trying to make you drink then the situation will resolve itself.
Most of all - Stay Safe
If you are going to drink alcohol here are some tips to help keep you safe:
Eat – Make sure you eat a full starch rich meal before going out, this will slow down the rate alcohol is absorbed, meaning you won’t get drunk as fast.
Don’t mix – Avoid the stronger drinks and stick to one type of alcohol
Get your own – Always pour your own drink if at a party, then you know exactly what you are drinking and how strong it is. If you are at a pub or bar then make sure you are present if someone else is buying your drink.
Charge up – Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and has credit, this way you can call friends, parents, emergency services if you get into any trouble.
Watch your drink – always keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended and then return to it, anyone could have put anything in it!
If you want any information on alcohol or think one of your friends has an issue with alcohol then there are services you can speak to, check them out in the signposting section below.
Getting Help Locally
Wyze-Up - Yzup offers support, information and advice to young people under the age of 18 about drugs and alcohol.
Alcoholics Anonymous Cornwall - If you believe you or a friend/family member have a problem with alcohol then this site will offer information and help and will answer any questions you may have about Alcoholics Anonymous.
National Support Websites
Drinkaware - Drinkaware aim to reduce alcohol-related harm by helping people make better choices about their drinking
Alcohol and the law - Find out more about alcohol and the law
Rise Above - Have any questions about drink? Here you’ll find great advice and tips for making decisions about alcohol
Childline - Damaging yourself: Alcohol information
NHS Choices - For loads of info and advice on healthy living and alcohol check out the NHS choices website
Need someone to talk to?
SHAC - Sexual Health and Contraception
YZUP - Wise up to Drugs and Alcohol
Ask PHIL - support, information and advice on local services
ABC - Anti-bullying in Cornwall
Childline - a free 24 hour counselling service for children and young people
Samaritans - 24 hour confidential emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts
Brook - free and confidential sexual health advice and contraception to young people
Kooth - free online support for young people
Think you know - internet safety and safe surfing for young people
Talk to Frank - friendly, confidential drugs advice