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What is alcohol?

Alcohol is the most widely available legal drug in this country. It comes in all shapes, sizes and most importantly strengths, from alcopops through lager and beer to spirits, like whisky and vodka.

Spirits or shorts contain way more alcohol than wine or beer. Surprisingly, the same glass filled with alcopop can contain more alcohol than one of beer or cider. So, you need to think carefully about what you’re drinking and how much alcohol is in it. Just because there’s not much in your glass, doesn’t mean you can keep on drinking without any effect.

The effects of alcohol

Put simply, alcohol makes your body respond more slowly to what’s going on around you.

One or a couple of drinks can make you feel relaxed and chatty. Keep drinking and your coordination and judgment will be affected – so you’re more likely to fall over or do or say something you’ll live to regret! You might feel really rough the next day (a hangover) or blackout and be unable to remember anything you did (more regrets). Binge drinking can leave you unconscious or even kill you.

Too much alcohol over a long time can damage your liver and lead to a host of other serious health illnesses.

What does it do to you?

  • If you’re already feeling low, alcohol can make things worse.
  • Slows your reaction times, so driving is a bad idea, as is using anything electrical (from hair straighteners to cooking)
  • Makes you more willing to take risks (walking home alone, coming on strong to someone you fancy)

Staying safe with alcohol

When you’re a teenager your brain’s still developing, so alcohol affects you differently to adults. Girls are more vulnerable to alcohol’s effects than boys. So think carefully about drinking.

Also, if you’re under 18 it’s against the law for you to buy alcohol in a pub, shop or online. All advice is not to drink alcohol until you’re 18 to stay safe.

For those old enough to drink legally, the Government provides guidelines about how much alcohol to drink so your health doesn’t suffer and you’re safe to drive. Lots of people are left scratching their heads about units of alcohol:

  • 1 unit of alcohol = half a pint of normal beer, lager or cider or 25 mls of spirits

Tips for drinking responsibly

  1. Get to know the recommended units of alcohol for men and women over the age of 18
  2. If you’re under 18 and are drinking, as well as the law, be aware of the risks involved
  3. Be informed about the realities and the myths associated with alcohol
  4. If you’re planning on going out for a drink, always eat before you go out. Alcohol takes effect more slowly if you drink on a full stomach
  5. If alcohol’s getting the better of you, contact your GP or school nurse who can help you find a specialist organisation to help and support you.


Because of the risks, the government has recommended guidelines around how much alcohol you should drink for your health and to stay within the law if you are driving. 1 unit of alcohol is half a pint of lower strength beer, lager or cider or 25mls of spirits. For more information you can also visit the Drinkware website has an app that can track and calculate the units that you are drinking.

Underage drinking – The law

It is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to buy alcohol in a pub, off-licence or supermarket or on-line. Head to the Alcohol and Young People page on the Government website for information on the law.

Tips for drinking responsibly

Water illustration

If you do decide to drink alcohol, make sure that you also drink plenty of water because this help to reduce the effects on your body.

Pan fire illustration Drinking alcohol slows down your reaction times and ability to make good decisions. So if you do choose to drink alcohol, you should avoid doing anything slightly dangerous such as riding your bike or cooking.
Fact or fiction illustration There are a few myths about alcohol so take a look at this Alcohol myth buster to get your facts right.

Further information

Relate Bradford are a local charity that offer a conselling service for young people for all kinds of persona issues including addition and offer workshops, consultations and support face-to-face and by phone.

The Bridge project is a Bradford-based charity with the mission of helping individuals and families to achieve recovery from addictions.

If you think that you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol then you can get some help and support from the Bradford Young people's drug and alcohol service (YPDAS).

The Frank website also has some really great information about alcohol its effects and risks

Find some more useful information about Alcohol on the Talk about alcohol website.

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