(booze, wine, spirits, beer, drinks)

Alcohol is the most commonly used recreational drug in the world with 57% of over 16s in the UK reporting they used alcohol in the past year. Alcohol has been used for thousands of years and is culturally embedded in most societies. Alcohol is a depressant drug that despite its legal status, can be incredibly harmful if used in excess.

Effects | Dosage | Advice | Support


The effects of alcohol will take around 15-30 minutes to kick in and will last around 1.5 to 3 hours.

  • Relaxation
  • Sociability
  • Slurred speech and lack of coordination
  • Impulsivity/increased risk taking
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Emotional volatility (sadness, aggressiveness, etc.)
  • Blackouts and memory loss


The dose required to achieve your desired effect will vary depending on a number of factors including gender, weight and tolerance, amongst others. The following guidance is from the NHS:

  • Both women and men should not exceed 14 units per week on a regular basis.
  • Drinking should be spread over 3 or more days if you regularly drink as much as 14 units per week.
  • Try to have several alcohol free days each week.

Harm Reduction Advice

  • Eat a filling meal before drinking and make sure you’re well hydrated before during and after. A good way to do this is by alternating between alcoholic drinks and water. This will reduce the risk of a bad hangover and of accidentally drinking too much alcohol.
  • If you go out drinking, don’t go alone and have a plan for getting home safely.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you plan on taking other drugs as it combines dangerously with many of them.
  • Be aware alcohol will make you more likely to engage in risky behaviours. Don’t drive and always practice safe sex.
  • If someone becomes unresponsive after consuming alcohol put them in the recovery position and call for medical assistance. You won’t get in trouble for this.
  • Try not to drink every day as this will increase your risk of becoming dependent on alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal can be incredibly unpleasant and medically dangerous if reductions are made too quickly.
  • Excessive drinking can cause a wide range of illnesses including cirrhosis of the liver and various cancers. If you feel like your drinking is getting out of control, seek assistance from your GP or BDP.

Access Support

BDP can provide support, advice and resources around your alcohol use.

Contact BDP

External Resources

Unit & Calorie Counter

Alcohol Self-Assessment

Mixing Alcohol & Drugs


Visit drinkaware.co.uk and drugsand.me for more information.