Know… your own drinking

It's worth giving some thought to your own pattern of drinking and how you can manage it so you enjoy alcohol safely.

Tips for managing your drinking

  • Eat before or while drinking and avoid salty snacks, which make you thirsty.
  • Be assertive – don’t be pressured into drinking more than you want or intend to.
  • Know your limits and stick to them.
  • Stay busy – don't just sit and drink. Dance or have a game of pool if you're at a pub.
  • Try not to confuse large measures of alcohol with standard measures, eg a glass of wine served at a party or at home may be much larger than the standard 125mls.
  • Keep track of your drinks and don't let people top up your drink until it's finished.
  • Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water or other non-alcoholic drinks. Add plenty of mixer to your drinks to make them last longer.
  • Avoid rounds, ‘shouts’ and kitties – drink at your own pace, not someone else's.
  • Drink slowly – take sips not gulps.

Drinking myths

Don't believe everything you hear about alcohol. Here's some help with those frequently aired myths.

Alcohol cheers me up

Drinking too much tends to make you focus on your problems rather than forget them. Alcohol is a depressant and, in the long run, could make it more difficult for you to cope with any problems you already have. Drinking too much could also lead to new problems, such as illness, an accident or financial difficulties.

Beer will make me less drunk than spirits

One unit of beer contains the same amount of alcohol as one unit of spirits (but various drinks may affect people's moods differently).

Drinking coffee will sober me up

Drinking coffee will make you a ‘wide awake’ drunk. Caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, so you might feel more alert, but it does not make you sober.

I'll be fine in the morning

It takes approximately one hour for your liver to process (metabolise) one unit of alcohol. Sleep will not affect this and you will not necessarily be sober in the morning. This depends on the number of units you drank the night before. You can still be over the legal drink-driving limit the next morning.

I'll be okay if I drink plenty of water before I go to bed

This may reduce the symptoms of a hangover by preventing dehydration, but it won't make you any less drunk or protect you from the damaging effects of alcohol.

Alcohol-related problems are mostly caused by ‘alcoholics’

Immediate problems like motor accidents, violent assaults and accidental injury are mostly caused by moderate drinkers who occasionally overdo it.