Alcohol is a drug that slows down parts of your brain. It affects thinking, decision making,  emotions, behaviour, breathing and heart rate.

Drinking alcohol can make a person feel more relaxed. It can also be dangerous.  People who drink too much are more likely to do dangerous things like drunk driving,  physical violence, abusing or injuring other people or even causing death.  When people drink too much they may also have risky sex or force others to have unwanted sex.

Risks of alcohol use

Alcohol is involved in more crimes and more car, truck and boat fatalities than all other drugs combined.  Young people, who know less about the effects of alcohol, are at higher risk of risky and dangerous behaviour when they are drunk.

Getting very drunk can kill you. This can happen when a person who is drunk “passes out” and throws up.  The drunk person chokes to death on their own vomit.  People who drink and drive a truck, car, skidoo or motor boat may have an accident that kills another person or causes their own death.

Women who drink during pregnancy risk giving birth to a baby that will grow up to be an adult with serious lifelong problems.  These can include growth and development problems, head and facial deformities, joint problems, behaviour problems and heart defects.  Babies born to a mother who drinks during pregnancy are at risk of having Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).  The risk of having a child with these problems increases with the amount of alcohol the mother drinks.

Mixing alcohol with other drugs can also have very negative results.  Alcohol may make the medicine the doctor or nurse has prescribed less effective. It may also increase the effect of other drugs, including illegal drugs.

Practicing moderation 

There is no “safe” level of drinking that works for everyone.  Women who are pregnant and both men and women who have certain medical conditions, or who will be driving a vehicle or operating machinery, should always avoid drinking.

 The “lower-risk” guidelines for healthy adults suggest having your drinks one hour apart, and not drinking more than two drinks in any drinking situation.