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ALCOHOL Alcohol is produced by fermenting substances – grain (beer, whisky), fruit (wine, cider), potatoes (vodka). It is a depressant and acts to slow down the brain and nervous system It is the most widely used drug in Australia. Alcohol related deaths make up 62% of all drug-related deaths among people aged 15 to 34 years. Alcohol related injuries due to falls, fights and car crashes are also high among teenagers. Alcohol is the drug that causes the most deaths, injuries and regrettable behaviours amongst teenagers. Alcohol and the community About 1/3 of all people killed on Australia’s roads each year have been drinking alcohol. Over 70% pf prisoners convicted of violent assaults in Australia have drunk alcohol before committing the offence. Over 40% of domestic violence incidents involve alcohol. Each week 60 Australians are dying from the effects of alcohol. The annual cost of health care for alcohol related illness and problems is $15billion. Alcohol and your health A moderate amount of alcohol does not harm most people. Excessive drinking above recommended levels, on a regular basis, can cause health problems. Your age, weight, sex, body chemistry, fitness, use of medicines and other drugs, and whether you have food in your stomach affect your body’s reaction to alcohol. Generally, men can drink more than women before reaching the same blood alcohol level. Women’s bodies are less able to break down alcohol due to body weight, the amount of body fat and water in the body, and the size of a woman’s liver. Guidelines for low risk drinking Guideline 1: Reducing the risk of alcohol-related harm over a lifetime For healthy men and women, drinking no more than two standard drinks on any day. Guideline 2: Reducing the risk of injury on a single occasion of drinking For health men and women, drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion. Guideline 3: Children and young people under 18 years of age A. Parents and carers should be advised that children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk age group, not drinking alcohol is especially important. B. For young people aged 15-17years, the safest option is to delay the initiation of drinking. Guideline 4: Pregnancy and breastfeeding A. For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, not drinking is the safest option B. For women who are breastfeeding, not drinking is the safest option. Standard Drinks A standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol. A pint of light beer (425ml) A schooner of regular beer (285ml) A small glass of wine (100ml) A glass of fortified wine – port or sherry (60ml) A nip of spirits or liqueurs (30ml) How you can minimize the risk if driving Develop your personal rule of thumb so you know how many standard drinks you can have while remaining safely within the limit. Check the standard drink label on the bottle or can from which you are drinking. Check the number of standard drinks contained in the glass from which you are drinking. Drink slowly and alternate your drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Have something to eat when you are drinking Always finish your glass before filling up again. This will help you keep count of your drinks. Drink light beer rather than full-strength beer if you expect to be driving. Never drink mixed drinks like cocktails if you are driving because you often cannot tell how much alcohol they contain. Before driving wait at least one hour for each standard drink. The only way to be certain of staying under 0.05BAC is not to drink any alcohol at all if you are planning to drive. If you know you will be drinking, consider your options: 1. Get a ride with someone who will not be drinking. 2. Appoint a designated driver (someone who will not be drinking). 3. Get a taxi (or public transport) home. 4. Stay overnight. 5. Arrange for someone to come and get you.
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