Festive excess – the negative effects of alcohol

During the Christmas season it is all too easy to be unaware of exactly how much alcohol is being consumed.  ​The active component of alcoholic beverages is ethanol, a chemical that has a strong effect on the psyche. Ethanol is intoxicating and addictive.

Taken in small quantities, it affects mood and emotion, lowering inhibition and thus making it a welcome icebreaker in social occasions. People talk a lot more and socialise with greater ease after a few drinks. Alcohol, in any amount, effects physical and mental abilities, lowering speed and accuracy. In excess, it can lead to drunken behaviour, increasing the risk of car accidents and injuries.

Calories and health

Alcohol contains a lot of calories. One gram of alcohol provides 7 calories, which is just a little less than fat. So, if you drink alcohol regularly it can lead to excess weight.

  • 1 can (330 ml) of beer — 158kcal
  • Half glass (100ml) of wine (height of glass = 15cm) — 140kcal
  • 1 nip (30ml) of hard liquor — 89kcal

Regular drinking has been associated with obesity; cancer of the mouth, throat and oesophagus; cirrhosis of the liver; brain damage and memory loss; sexual problems and male impotency.

Below the age of 18 years alcohol effects are heightened because your body processes it more slowly. Therefore, the negative effects last longer and are stronger than that experienced by an adult.

Moderation is Key

​​​​​​​If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Men should drink no more than two standard drinks a day, and women, no more than one. A standard alcoholic drink is defined as a can (330 ml) of regular beer, half a glass (175 ml) of wine or 1 nip (35 ml) of spirit.

Eat Before and During a Drinking

​Eating a snack or meal before and during a drinking session will help slow down alcohol absorption. Avoid salty food as they make you thirstier and, you may drink more alcohol to quench your thirst.

At any one drinking session, drink slowly, sipping the alcoholic drink, alternating it with a non-alcoholic drink and eating some food along with the drink.

 Do Not Drink and Drive

Alcoholic drinks impacts your hand and eye co-ordination. So, if you plan to drink, take a taxi to and from the party.

If your breath alcohol content is more than 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath; or more than 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, you can be charged with drink-driving. It is worth noting that in Singapore, even when the alcohol content is below the legal limit, a driver can still be convicted of drink driving if there is evidence to show that he cannot control the vehicle.

Watch Out for Dependence

Since alcohol is potentially addictive, it is important to be observant about the way you handle it. Keep a track of how often and how much you drink. Share your results with a close family member or friend so that you can be on your guard, just in case you slip into the habit of drinking too much.

Get Help, If Needed

Be honest and seek help if you have a problem with the amount of alcohol you drink. See your doctor if you have any concerns and remember there are agencies that can provide help to overcome alcohol dependence.

Source: Ministry Health of Singapore


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