Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

What’s the harm in drinking excessively if I only do it once in a while?

Drinking excessively, even every now and then, can cause serious damage to your body. Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines advise no more than 10 drinks for women and 15 for men per week, with daily maximums of two for women and three for men.

Does switching between beer, wine, and hard liquor make me more drunk than sticking to one type of alcohol?

Nope. Your Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) – the percentage of alcohol in your blood – is what counts to your body, not the type of alcohol you drink.

Can drinking only beer or wine spritzers still do permanent damage?

Any kind of alcohol, if consumed recklessly, can seriously damage your digestive system, brain, heart, liver, and other vital organs. All of this damage combined has the potential to shorten your life by a number of years. And we like you, so try to stick around.

Why do I feel like I sleep better after a few drinks?

Alcohol might help you fall asleep but it interferes with the quality of restful sleep. So while you might sleep for a long time, your body isn’t truly restored to normal… which is the purpose of sleep!

What do I do if someone passes out after drinking?

Never leave an unconscious person alone. Call 911 immediately for medical assistance and monitor the person until help arrives.

Is alcohol a drug?

Yes, alcohol is a drug. Next to caffeine, it’s the most popular drug and the most common drug used by teens (yes, caffeine is also a drug!)

Is alcohol an upper or a downer?

Alcohol is a downer. Even though you might feel more relaxed, outgoing, or active, the alcohol is reducing activity in your brain. Anything that lowers brain activity is considered a downer. That is why alcohol slows reaction time and leads to poor judgment when driving… and dancing, and talking and well, most things.

How much is one standard drink?

Below are standard drinks, each is the same amount of alcohol:

  • 341 ml (12 oz.) 5% alcohol bottle of beer or wine cooler
  • 142 ml (5 oz.) 12% alcohol glass of wine
  • 43 ml (1.5 oz.) 40% alcohol shot of liquor
Does switching drinks (e.g., beer to wine) make you drunker?

No. It doesn’t matter what type you drink, alcohol is alcohol.

What is the fastest way to sober up?

The only thing that will sober you up is time. Your liver needs time to break down and eliminate the alcohol. Things like coffee and cold showers might wake you up, but now you’re just wired and wet, not any more sober.

How long does it take for the effects of alcohol to go away?

It can take up to two hours for the body to get rid of the effects of just one drink. Even if you have one drink an hour, alcohol builds up in the blood because you’re drinking faster than your body can break it down.

What is the best hangover cure?

There is no real cure for a hangover, except time.

What does blood alcohol level mean?

It’s a way to check how intoxicated a person is. If people drink faster than their body can get rid of alcohol, the alcohol builds up in the blood. The exact level of the buildup is called the blood alcohol concentration or BAC.

The first drink you have increases your BAC. And the higher the BAC, the more effects you will have from drinking. Below are a few examples:

  • You may walk and talk funny - doesn’t look good
  • You may have nausea or vomiting - doesn’t feel good
  • You may pass out - not a good idea
  • You could even die

Police use a breath analyzer (e.g.: Breathalyzer™) to measure the amount of alcohol in the breath. This information can tell what your BAC is. Breath mints might make your breath smell better, but they won’t affect your Breathalyzer results.

Is it dangerous to take drugs with alcohol?

Alcohol is a drug and it’s important to be careful when mixing drugs. Many drugs cause serious problems when used with alcohol.

Sometimes, people mix street drugs such as marijuana with other drugs. Because of this, you may not know what you are actually getting. If you don’t know what you’re getting, you don’t know what will happen when you mix street drugs and alcohol.

If you take sleeping pills or some types of allergy medicine and drink alcohol, it may even cause death. If you have any questions, talk to a pharmacist.

What if I eat while I’m drinking alcohol?

It’s always a good idea to have snacks or meals at a party where people are drinking. If there is food in your stomach, alcohol won’t get into the blood as fast. It won’t stop you from getting drunk, it simply slows the alcohol from getting into the blood.

Does body size matter?

Yes. The body is made up of mostly water. The bigger the body, the more water it contains. Most often, the bigger a person’s body size, the less effects of alcohol.

Are there differences in how alcohol affects men and women?

Yes. Due to many physiological factors (such as less muscle mass) women experience the effects of alcohol more than men – even if both of them are of the same size.

What long-term effects does heavy drinking cause?

Long-term effects include liver, heart, and brain damage. Heavy drinking can also cause decreased appetite, vitamin deficiencies, stomach problems, skin problems, problems with sex and memory loss.

Is drinking alcohol in moderation good for you?

If you’re an adult and you drink moderately you may have a lower risk of some types of heart disease. However, to stay healthy doctors don’t recommend drinking for these benefits. It is better to exercise, follow Canada’s Food Guide and not smoke.

Is there alcohol in things other than beer, wine, and liquor?

Yes, but this type of alcohol isn’t meant for drinking. Methyl alcohol is in things like antifreeze, paint remover, lock de-icer, and some household and industrial products. This type of alcohol is poison and you should never drink it.

What is the difference between experienced and inexperienced drinkers?

Experienced drinkers are people who drink more often. They develop a tolerance for alcohol. This means they don’t feel the effects they used to feel after one or two drinks. Alcohol tolerance is a warning sign of an addiction.

Inexperienced drinkers don’t have tolerance, so they may get drunk very fast. They may also get sick and vomit after drinking smaller amounts of alcohol. That said, while experienced drinkers may not feel these same effects, their BAC will still be the same.

If I am pregnant, can I drink alcohol at any stage of my pregnancy?

Never. Alcohol can damage a developing baby’s brain and body. This can cause a permanent, life-long disability called fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Research shows the more alcohol someone drinks, the greater the risk of damage. Do not drink any alcohol at any stage of a pregnancy.

At what age is it okay to start drinking?

Young people should wait until they are at least 18 or older years to drink alcohol and always follow the laws for the legal drinking age where you live. Drinking at a younger age can affect your general health, physical growth, emotional development, ability to make good decisions, and schoolwork.

Who should not drink alcohol?

Although most people can enjoy responsibly, some people should not drink alcohol. Don’t drink alcohol if:

  • You’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Alcohol can harm the developing baby (fetus). Alcohol passes from the mother’s blood into the baby’s blood. It can damage and affect the growth of the baby’s cells.
  • You’re breast feeding.
  • You’re taking over-the-counter or prescription medicines that interact with alcohol, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), antibiotics, and antihistamines.
  • You have health problems made worse by drinking, such as liver problems, heart failure, uncontrolled high blood pressure, or certain blood disorders. 
  • You have a mental health problem and are using alcohol to try to make yourself feel better. 
  • You have problems controlling how much you drink, or you had alcohol problems in the past. 
  • You’re at work. 
  • You plan to drive or operate tools or machinery. 
  • You plan to play sports or take part in physical activities. 
  • You’re taking care of someone or supervising others. 
  • You need to make important decisions.

Talk to your doctor about whether drinking alcohol is safe for you. And if it is, ask how much is okay.

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