What is harmful or high risk drinking?

Harmful drinking is defined as drinking more than 4 drinks on any one occasion (binge drinking) or drinking more than 2 drinks per day over extended periods (5 days a week) . Drinking alcohol also becomes harmful if it begins to negatively affect your relationships at home or work, or leads to financial problems. When people reach a point where they find it difficult to control their drinking and feel strong cravings for a drink they are said to have become dependent on alcohol.

The harmful use of alcohol, such as binge drinking or drinking to intoxication is a major cause of:
  • Injury
  • Including traffc injuries, falls, drowning, burns and unintentional firearm injuries.

  • Violence
  • Including domestic violence, child abuse and neglect.

  • Risky sexual behaviour
  • Including unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners and sexual assault

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • A medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels that can cause a loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and death.

  • Chronic diseases
  • Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and mental illness

The immediate effects of excessive alcohol use :
  • Slow reaction time
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of memory
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blackouts and hangovers
  • Anger and belligerence
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Lack of inhibition (lack of control of emotions and reactions)
Long term health risks: :
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) and stroke
  • Digestive problems such as stomach ulcers and gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas, which is an organ important for digestion)
  • Cardiomyopathy (weakness in the muscle of the heart)/li>
  • Liver damage (cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholic hepatitis)
  • Cancer, including cancer of the mouth, throat, colon, throat, liver, prostate and breast
  • Brain damage (memory loss, slowing of mental functions, reduced attention span)
  • Impotence
  • Psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety and suicide
  • HIV
  • Alcohol consumption increases risky sexual behaviour and can accelerate the progression of HIV related disease because it suppresses the immune system. Heavy drinkers also forget to take their prescribed medication