What it can do to you.....

Alcohol slows down your brain. You don't need to drink much before your concentration and coordination are impaired. Even one beer (12-ounce can) can slow down your reaction time and confuse your thinking. With a blood alcohol level as low as .02, you lose your ability to perform certain driving skills - such as steering your car while at the same time responding to changes in traffic. For a woman weighing 120 pounds, that can happen by drinking less than one beer in an hour. For a 160-pound man, that might mean drinking as few as one to two beers in an hour.

If you're like most people, just one drink of alcohol leaves you feeling relaxed and pleasant. You lose your inhibitions - those things that keep you from engaging in certain behaviours. A beer or two might make it easier to talk to someone you're attracted to, to try a new dance, or be the "life of the party." But it also removes the checkpoint that keeps you from doing dangerous things:

Risky behaviour

Lying down in the centre of the road
Having unsafe sex, or having it before you're ready

Illegal behaviour
Taking illegal drugs

Violent behaviour
Getting into a fight with an acquaintance
Abusing a loved one
For some people, alcohol is a stimulant. It's use is linked to abuse - either self-abuse or violent behaviour directed at someone else. The more heavily you drink, the more likely you are to experience problems at home, work, with friends and loved ones - and even with strangers.

Alcohol goes into your blood stream and affects many organs. You could end up with liver damage, heart disease, pancreatic problems, or cancer because of long-term alcohol use. Some other problems that can occur with even short-term moderate alcohol use include:

  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth problems
  • Stomach ulcers
  • High blood pressure
  • Foetal alcohol syndrome (If you drink while pregnant, your baby could be born mentally retarded or with other birth defects.)

Alcohol interacts negatively with more than 150 medications, including antihistamines and acetaminophen. Mixing alcohol with over-the-counter or prescription medications can also be dangerous - even fatal.

By Paula Wart


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