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Alcohol Information

Drinking alcohol is a massive part of Scottish culture. Scottish whiskey, Buckfast and binge drinking are common things when people think about Scotland's relationship with alcohol. 

"Scots tend to drink more heavily than people living in other parts of the UK." (source)

What is Alcohol?

Alcoholic drinks mainly contain water and ethyl alcohol (or ethanol) which is produced by fermenting and distilling fruit, vegetables or grains.  Different drinks contain different amounts of ethanol which is why some drinks are stronger than others​.


Alcohol often comes labelled with useful information, such as how many units are in the drink and how strong the alcohol is. This is usually a number with a percent sign next to it (%). For example, Vodka might be 37.5% and a pint of beer might be around 4.0%. These numbers are required to be there by law.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol and you

Alcohol is classed as a depressant drug, meaning that it slows down the vital functions in your body. (slurred speech, unsteady movement, slower breathing, and heart rate).

Alcohol raises testosterone levels in males and females, which affects both sex drive and aggression.

When you drink alcohol it can lower your inhibitions, and affect your judgment and ability to make good decisions. This could lead to you taking risks that you normally wouldn't


The amount of alcohol you consume, where you drink it and who you are with often determines the effects it can have on your mind and body. This means, that you can drink the same thing every week and you are not guaranteed the same effects.

Alcohol and you

Short Term Effects

  • May be felt between 5-10 minutes after first drink

  • Slows down heart rate

  • Blurs vision

  • Affects your coordination

  • Slurring words and slow speech

  • Can become aggressive or angry easily

  • Nausea (feeling sick)

  • May make you feel happy or sad

  • Gives you a false sense of confidence

  • Reduces your body's core temperature

Long Term Effects

  • The more you drink alcohol, your body develops a tolerance. This means you need to drink more to feel drunk.

  • Some people can develop an addiction to alcohol. This is known as alcoholism.

  • Drinking alcohol frequently can cause liver and brain damage.

  • Heavy, regular drinking can cause financial problems, relationship problems with your loved ones and issues with your place of work.

  • Fertility problems

Binge Drinking

The NHS defines binge drinking as - "drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk."

In the UK - binge drinking is drinking more than 8 units of alcohol in a single session for males and 6 units of alcohol in a single session for females.

In Scotland, binge drinking is very common. When people drink, they tend to get as drunk, rather than having a few drinks and calling it a night.

Binge drinking is dangerous because on average your body can only process one unit of alcohol per hour, therefore drinking larger amounts over a short period of time does more damage to your body.


The effects of binge drinking

  • Your balance and coordination are affected, making falls and accidents more likely.

  • Excessive drinking is also bad for the cardiovascular system, leading to increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.

  • Could lead to anti-social and aggressive behaviour.

  • Can affect your mood and memory.

  • Poor decision making.

  • May end up using other substances.

  • More risk of unprotected sex.

Frequent binge drinking is more likely to lead to long-term damage.

Binge Drinking

Official Guidelines for alcohol consumption in the UK

For Young People - it is recommended that you do not drink alcohol at all if you are under the age of 15. Your body and brain is still developing at this age and it can be especially harmful to you.​ 

For Adults (18+) - Both females and males are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week.

Pregnant Women - Are advised to avoid all alcohol consumption during pregnancy as any drinking can cause significant harm to mother and baby.

For more information on the Official Guidelines visit the Drinkaware website.


A hangover is caused by the ethanol in your drink. It's a chemical that has a diuretic effect on your body, meaning that it makes you pee more and causes you to become dehydrated. Dehydration is usually the main cause of your hangover.

Q: What does a hangover feel like?

A: It varies from person to person, but, some of the symptoms you might feel are:

  • Nausea (sick feeling)

  • Being sick

  • Restless

  • Headache

  • Weak

  • Dizzy

  • Spinny room

  • Tired

  • Lack of concentration

  • No appetite or an increased appetite

  • Over emotional

  • Depressed and down

Q: How can I avoid a hangover?
A: The best way to not get a hangover is to not drink. But, if you decide to drink you could:

  • Keep track of what you are drinking, don't get carried away and make sure you consume under the recommended weekly allowance of 14 units.

  • Avoid double spirit measures and shots and house measures (free-pouring)

  • Drink water between alcoholic drinks.

  • Drink water before you go to bed

Q: How can I cure my hangover?
A: There are lots of myths and misinformation around hangover cures. Some people swear by certain foods, drinks and routines but here are the facts:

  • Drink plenty of water. Water is the key to life, it also really helps a hangover! If you can, drink a glass of water before you go to bed and keep one by your bedside in case you need a drink during the night. Have another glass in the morning when you wake up, and continue to drink water throughout the next day.

  • Vitamin drinks, rehydration sachets, and fruit juice. Natural fruit juice and vitamin drinks are filled with minerals and vitamins, both of which will help with your hangover.

  • Avoid drinking the next day, (hair of the dog) this isn't a cure it just delays your hangover.

  • The only real cure for a hangover is time. Remember, these feelings will pass.


Alcohol Harm Reduction

When you're drinking, it's important that you keep yourself as safe as possible. We have put together some harm reduction messages that we think you should be aware of.
The picture below is included in our Alcohol Workshop and is also available to order as a physical resource from our online shop if you would like a copy to use with your group.

Harm Reduction Board.png
Harm Reduction

Further Information

 Have a look at the links below for further reading and information. 

Further Information
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