Risks and Effects of Alcohol Use

Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is when you drink a lot of alcohol in a short period of time.

  • For women, this means having more than 3 standard drinks at one time.
  • For men, this means having more than 4 standard drinks at one time.

The body can only process one standard drink per hour. When you binge drink, you drink alcohol faster than the body can process it.

Binge drinking increases the risk of dangerous things like:

  • Driving impaired, which can cause accidents, injuries, death, and possible criminal charges
  • Fighting, which can lead to more violence, abuse, and possible criminal charges
  • Having unprotected or unplanned sex, which can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unplanned pregnancies
  • Getting alcohol poisoning 

Alcohol poisoning

If a person drinks a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time it can become toxic (poisonous) to the body. Alcohol poisoning is serious and can be fatal. Symptoms can include vomiting, seizures, slowed or irregular breathing, and unconsciousness (passing out). If a person passes out outside, there will be greater risk of choking, getting frostbite, or hypothermia.

For information on the impacts of alcohol during pregnancy, go to Healthy Pregnancy.

Risks of Long-Term Alcohol Use

Drinking a lot of alcohol over a long time can have negative health impacts. The body may not show signs right away but they can develop over time. Long-term health impacts of drinking too much alcohol can include:

  • Brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Mental Illness
  • Diabetes
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Cancer: oral, breast, liver, mouth, esophagus, colorectal

If you or someone you know is not feeling well emotionally or mentally, help is available. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, teacher, counsellor, or Elder, and talk about what you're going through. You can also go to your local health centre to speak with a mental health worker.

For anonymous support, call the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line, available 24 hours a day at 1-800-265-3333.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please get the help that's needed right away. Call a crisis line, emergency number or visit the health centre or hospital immediately.

For more information, go to Drugs and Addiction.