Other names: booze, drink

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the UK and comes in a wide range of drinks with different alcoholic strengths, colours and tastes. Although legal, alcohol is a drug and should be treated with the same respect, caution and awareness as other drugs (including medications) you may encounter.

Alcohol and its effects on the brain and body

The dangers of regular excessive drinking go way beyond the morning hangover. Those who drink heavily run the risk of damaged brain tissue, an array of liver disease and a variety of cancers. Keep these risks in mind when asking if you're good for one more!

Some effects include reduced feelings of anxiety, which can help you feel more sociable. Alcohol can also exaggerate whatever mood you're in when you start drinking. Drinking a lot of alcohol in a short space of time will begin to get you drunk, which can show itself as slurred speech, lack of co-ordination and blurred vision.

Liquids of different colours & consistencies.

A drink

• Getting drunk may lead to short-term risks such as injuries, accidents and assaults.

• If you drink too much, too quickly, you risk getting alcohol poisoning which may include you passing out. You might need emergency care and there is a risk of death from choking on your own vomit.

• Alcohol tends to make people more impulsive so there is increased risk of ‘relationships you might regret’, picking up sexually transmitted infections (STIs), even unwanted pregnancies.

• Alcohol affects young, developing bodies and brains in a different way, adding additional risk.

• Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time increases the risk of you getting a number of health problems. As alcohol affects the whole body, these risks include various cancers, stroke, heart disease, liver disease and damage to your brain and nervous system.

• Drinking high levels of alcohol over a long period can also have damaging effects on your mental health, with links to anxiety and depression. It is also increases impulsivity and has links to self-harming behaviour.

• If you choose to drink, then try to do so somewhere you know and feel safe and in the company of people you trust.

• The effects of alcohol will vary a lot depending on what you are drinking. ‘Downing’ spirits will get you drunk very quickly. Try to pace yourself, particularly when drinking stronger drinks.

• Have a drink water in between alcoholic drinks.

• It is safer to avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs as this can increase the effects of both substances and increase the likelihood of negative effects.

• It is illegal and very unsafe to drive if you are under the influence of alcohol. It can slow your reaction times and greatly increase the risk of an accident.

• Try to avoid using alcohol every day, and aim to have at least a few free days each week.