Alcohol is a drug that enters your bloodstream through your stomach and intestine. Once in the bloodstream, it is carried to other parts of your body quite quickly. It reaches the brain almost immediately.
The brain is your body's control centre, so alcohol has a big impact on the way we behave. The more alcohol in the blood, the greater the impact. Alcohol affects your judgment, inhibitions, reaction time, co-ordination, vision, speech, balance, walking, and standing. It increases your risk of harming yourself and others, like through injuries and violence.
Alcohol can also increase your risk for many serious health problems, like heart disease, stroke, and several types of cancers including cancers of the mouth and throat, breast, colon, and liver.
Alcohol stays in the body until it is broken down by your liver. It eventually leaves the body through breath, sweat, and urine.
It’s hard to know how people will act after drinking alcohol. A lot depends on the person’s mood and where they are drinking. After a couple of drinks, one person might be more relaxed, another might be depressed, and another might be angry. If you are depressed, you might feel even worse after drinking alcohol.
There isn't one. Cold showers, black coffee, and other remedies people might try do not work. The only thing that helps to sober up is time, because your liver needs time to break down and eliminate the alcohol from your body.
It takes approximately 1.5 hours for the body to break down one standard drink. If you drink faster than your body can eliminate the alcohol, it builds up in your blood, which causes you to become intoxicated. Drinking too much alcohol in a short period of time is very dangerous because your body cannot get rid of it fast enough. This can lead to alcohol poisoning (overdose).
Yes. It is important to be very careful about mixing 2 kinds of drugs. Alcohol is a drug, and some other drugs cause serious problems when used with alcohol.
One of the greatest dangers in combining alcohol with other drugs is that the effects are not always possible to predict.
If you are taking medicines, talk to your healthcare provider before drinking alcohol.
If you are worried about your own or someone else's drinking, call Health Link at 811 to find an addiction services office near you.
Current as of: May 12, 2023
Author: Addiction & Mental Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.