Drinking alcohol is a risk to adults. The government recommends anyone drinking should stay within safe limits. This is 2-3 units for adult men and women. For young people, there is no recommended safe limit. To find out how many units and calories are in your drink check out Drinkaware.
Sometimes you should not drink alcohol at all:
- If you are driving
- If you are pregnant, or think you might be pregnant
- If you are working or studying.
But whenever anyone drinks alcohol there is a risk of harm. This includes harm to your health, safety and relationships.
Crucial: Young people are most at risk from accidentally drinking too much. This is because young bodies and brains are going through fast changes. This means your body's response to alcohol can change very quickly, and you can suffer harm through drinking too much, too quickly - even if it feels like you have not drunk much at all.
What the law says
It is illegal to sell anyone under 18 alcoholic drinks. You can enter a building where drinks are served (for example, to see a band play, or eat a meal) but only as long as the person running the building agrees.
It is illegal to buy anyone under 18 alcoholic drinks unless they are 16+, having a table meal with supervising adults, and drinking beer, wine or cider.
The police can confiscate alcoholic drinks from anyone aged under 18, or anyone aged over 18 if they think they are going to give the drink to someone aged under 18. Penalties for supplying alcohol to children can include fines of up to £5,000 for individuals and £20,000 for organisations. In some cases premises can be closed or lose their license.
Think safe, drink safe
Fewer young people are drinking heavily nowadays. But alcohol-related harm is still a serious risk for young people. Every week, over 1000 young people in the UK go to hospital for alcohol-related reasons. Make sure you are not one of them:
- Avoid Alcohol Poisoning Alcohol is a poison. Drink too much, too quickly, and alcohol can poison you, slowing down brain and bodily functions, until you lose consciousness, slip into a coma, and die. NHS Choices has a handy guide to how many units adults can drink before they start running serious risks. Children may be at risk from lower amounts.
- Don't take risks Drunk people are at risk from drowning, falls, fights and accidents. Small amounts of alcohol make you careless and clumsy. Large amounts make you to fall over, collapse, vomit and lose consciousness (pass out).
- Look out for yourself and your friends When they are drunk, people take stupid risks and may do or say stupid, hurtful or dangerous things. It is easy to have arguments or do stupid things. You may not be able to remember what you did later.
Although many young people drink only a small amount, or not at all, some do drink a lot. These young people are harming their health. Young people who need to drink a lot to feel drunk (who have a low alcohol response or who can hold their drink) are particularly at risk, because they consume the most alcohol.