Getting drunk can sometimes lead to some serious situations. Whether you try to mix alcohol and sex or are making serious decisions, it’s important you know how to make safe choices. Learning to know your limits and taking on some tips for safe drinking can help to lessen the risks you might face when drinking. It’s also important to remember that if you experience violence or another criminal act while drunk; there are people you can talk to.
This might help if…
- You want to know about things that might happen when you’re drunk
- You want to know how to limit your alcohol intake
- You want some tips for safe drinking
Alcohol and sex
Alcohol can affect your judgement and prevent you from thinking clearly and making sensible decisions. This can be a problem when people are at parties, hanging out with friends, at bars or out clubbing. Why? Because alcohol can make you feel more relaxed, confident, and less inhibited. When you're feeling this way in a social situation, it’s more likely that you’ll meet someone you like and want to hook up with them – maybe even have sex with them. The person may be someone that you wouldn’t have gone near if you’d been sober. Even worse, you might be so drunk that you forget (or simply don’t bother) to use a condom, which could lead to unwanted pregnancy, or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) being passed on.
Making safe choices
When drinking, it’s always important to stay safe, and not let yourself get intoxicated. When you’re drunk, you’re much more likely to make poor decisions because your mind isn’t able to process all the facts and think things through. So you might end up deciding to do really embarrassing stuff that you regret later. Most people who drink a lot are familiar with this experience – and it never feels good afterwards. However, it’s not just getting embarrassed that’s the problem. Your physical safety and perhaps even the safety of others is at risk when you stop being able to think clearly about the effects of your actions. Dangerous stuff like driving while drunk or getting in a car with an intoxicated driver can seem like not a big deal when you’ve been drinking. Some decisions are irreversible and you may have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life.
Some facts about harm caused by alcohol:
- On average one in four hospitalisations of 15 -25 year olds happen because of alcohol.
- 70 Australians aged under 25 will be hospitalised due to alcohol-caused assault in an average week.
- Four Australians aged under 25 die due to alcohol related injuries in an average week.
Knowing your limits
We all respond to alcohol differently, and it is important that you know your own limits, and understand how alcohol affects you as an individual. If you haven’t drunk alcohol before, it may be difficult for you to know what your limits are. The first time you drink alcohol, it may be a good idea to try drinking in a safe area like home or at a friend's place and take it slowly. The amount of alcohol you drink is often stated in terms of 'standard drinks'. In Australia a standard drink is any drink that contains 10 grams of pure alcohol. For a helpful guide that shows how many standard drinks are in a variety of common alcoholic drinks, and some useful information about different people’s limits, visit the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council website www.nhmrc.gov.au.
Tips for safe drinking
- Set some limits before you start drinking, and stick to them.
- Start with a non-alcoholic drink, and also try having a 'spacer' - alternating non-alcoholic drinks with alcoholic drinks.
- Drink slowly - take sips not gulps.
- Eat before or while you are drinking. Avoid salty food – it just makes you thirstier!
- Avoid sculling competitions, and drinking games.
- Be assertive - don't be pressured into drinking more than you planned to.
- Look after yourself and your friends.
- Plan ahead for how you’ll get home, and don’t let people drive drunk.
- Don’t let your friends do anything dangerous or that they’ll regret while they’re intoxicated.
- Don’t leave your drink unattended or accept drinks from strangers – it may be an opportunity for drink spiking.
If you are feeling pressured to do anything risky or that you don’t want to do, don’t be afraid to say no or remove yourself. You should feel confident saying you’re too drunk if you don’t feel like you can make good decisions.
If someone has acted violently toward you, you may be feeling anything from fear and panic to anger and sadness. Sometimes your reactions to the violence can continue even after the event. If you have been hurt it is important to contact the police and talk to someone you trust, like a friend or family member. If you would like to talk anonymously to a counsellor about violent behaviour, either yours or someone else’s, you can call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
1. Chikritzhs, T. and Pascal, R. (2004). Trends in Youth Alcohol Consumption and Related Harms in Australian Jurisdictions, 1990–2002. Bulletin No. 6. National Drug Research Institute.
2. National Drug Research Institute (2008). 2004-05 Hospitalisation and morbidity data for Australians aged 0 to 24. Unpublished raw data.
3. Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing (2008). National Youth Alcohol Campaign evaluation research 2000-2002. Unpublished raw data. 4. DrugInfo Clearinghouse, ‘Binge Drinking’ Fact Sheet Number 1.10, revised June 2009.