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
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.
Making safer choices
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. It’s a lot easier to do something embarrassing that you’ll regret later. However, there are also risks to your physical safety and perhaps even the safety of others. Stuff like driving while drunk or getting in a car with an intoxicated driver can seem like it's not a big deal when you’ve been drinking, but it's really dangerous.
Some facts about harm caused by alcohol:
- It’s been estimated that more than 60 Australian teenagers will end up in hospital each week from alcohol-related causes.
- 13% of all deaths among 14-17 year old Australians are alcohol related.
- 52% of alcohol-related road injuries involve 15–24 year olds.
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 because alcohol can make you feel more relaxed, confident, and less inhibited. When you're feeling this way in a social situation, you might find that you meet someone you like and want to hook up with them – even if they’re not someone that you wouldn’t have gone near if you’d been sober. When you’ve been drinking, your intention to practice safe-sex could become compromised. This could lead to unwanted pregnancy, or a sexually transmitted infection
(STI) being passed on.
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.