- Mental Health
- Substance Use
- Healthy Living
Alcohol is the most common psychoactive* substance in Canada. It is made from grain, fruit or vegetables that are fermented and then used in beer, wine or liquor (vodka, rum, gin, etc.). Alcohol is also used in other things like mouthwash and hand sanitizer. Some people drink them to try to get intoxicated.
Alcohol is a "downer" or depressant. It slows down the central nervous system and makes a person think, talk, and move at a slower pace. The effect alcohol has on a person depends on their size, gender, ethnicity, drinking experience, mood, and the environment it is used in. Usually, your body can process about one drink an hour. If you consume more, then you begin to become intoxicated (drunk).
The amount of alcohol in "one standard drink" is:
*psychoactive (sy koh ak tive) - has an effect on mental processes
Short Term Effects
Depressed or aggressive
Problems with coordination and balance
Less able to make thoughtful decisions, poorer judgment
Slower reaction time
Less inhibited (may say or do things you otherwise wouldn't)
Hangover (beginning 8 - 12 hours after drinking stops) including headache, shakiness, possible short term memory loss (blackouts)
Alcohol poisoning or overdose is possible. Drinking a lot of alcohol in a short period of time - binge drinking - can cause alcohol poisoning. If you drink a lot of alcohol very quickly, it can be fatal. After a person passes out, the alcohol that is in the stomach continues to be absorbed into the blood stream. If too much alcohol enters the bloodstream, it may cause breathing and heart rate to slow down and eventually stop. Sometimes people who have been drinking vomit in their sleep and then choke to death. Binge drinking is considered five or more drinks in one sitting for males and four or more drinks in one sitting for females.
Long Term Effects
Damage to the liver, heart and brain
Diseases of the stomach and pancreas
Cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus
High blood pressure
Low red blood cell count (Anemia)
Weaker immune system
Studies show that only one drink a day has beneficial effects for adults. These effects have not been shown for children or youth.
Problems sleeping, insomnia
See things that aren't there (hallucinations)
A heavy, chronic user of alcohol should be medically supervised during withdrawal because of possible serious and deadly complications.