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Information » Health » Drugs, Alcohol and Substances » Alcohol


Alcohol is a chemical called Ethanol and is known as Booze, Drink, Sauce, Shot and Bevy and it can be bought as Beer, Wine and spirits. It can vary in strength from 2.8% (mild beer) to 40% (spirits).

The desired effects of alcohol can include making you feel relaxed, cheerful, intoxicated and sometimes sleepy. It can make you feel excited and want to do things that you would not consider doing if you were sober. When you drink alcohol it will get into your blood stream in a few minutes but its effects can last for hours.

The side effects can be a loss of balance, slurring your words, dehydration, confusion, loss of inhibitions and maybe blurred vision.

The most common problem with short-term use is injury through accidents caused when judgement is impaired.

Someone who is drunk is more likely to fall, be knocked over, be involved in a fight or commit a crime.

Effects of withdrawal from alcohol are hangover, headaches, dehydration, sickness/diarrhoea, and slight hand tremor.

The risks from drinking alcohol especially when taken in excess, such as binge drinking on a regular basis can be serious to your health and safety. Long Term use can lead to dependence, heart and circulatory problems liver disease, ulcers, brain damage, dehydration that will affect your skin and attacks the stores of vitamins and minerals in your body which are needed for it to function properly. Some of these symptoms can prove fatal.

The effects of withdrawal from long-term alcohol abuse include liver damage, malnutrition, permanent damage to the brain and other organs (heart, liver, stomach) that can be fatal.

Drinking alcohol sensibly when you are able to judge what you are drinking and control your actions will be considered socially acceptable as long as you are within the alcohol laws. (See below).

If you are pregnant and use alcohol can you damage your unborn baby. The baby can develop Foetal Alcohol syndrome. Not drinking at all when pregnant is the best advice as evidence to prove what level of alcohol is safe to a baby has not been proved.

Alcohol Laws

  • It is against the law to sell alcohol to someone under 18 anywhere in Wales
  • If you are under 14 you are not allowed into a pub/bar unless it has a suitable licence
  • At 14 to16 you can go into a pub/bar but not drink alcohol
  • At 16 to 17 you can buy or be bought beer or cider with a meal
  • If you are under 18 you cannot buy alcohol anywhere unless it is as stated in the previous point
  • If you are over 18 it is illegal for you to buy alcohol for anyone under 18
  • It is illegal to sell alcohol you have made at home
  • Most places do not allow drinking on the streets

In a survey carried out in Wales in 2009/10 it was reported that the proportion of young people aged 11 to 15 drink alcohol on a weekly basis, this is much higher than most other European and North American countries. Between 30% and 39% of boys and girls aged 15 reported drinking alcohol on a weekly basis. (Statistics taken from Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HSBC) survey).

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