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Alcohol Category: Depressants

Also called: booze, drink, bevy, scoops, gargle, cans.

How it’s used

Alcohol is a liquid you drink. It acts as a sedative (‘downer’) and a depressant (slows your brain). A standard drink is called a unit and contains about 10 g of pure alcohol. One unit = ½ pint of beer, lager or cider, a single measure of spirits, 1 alco-pop bottle or a small glass of wine. Since 2009, the weekly safe limits are 11 units for women and 17 units for men.

Short-term effects

Long-term effects

Other dangers

If you are pregnant

There is no safe level of alcohol in pregnancy. If you drink heavily while you are pregnant this can cause Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which means your baby could be born small and with birth defects.


If you drink too much you can become addicted to alcohol physically, so your body craves it, and psychologically, so you find it hard to cope with life without a drink.


Withdrawal from alcohol can cause tremors, nausea, hot and cold sweats, anxiety and depression.

How long does it stay in your system?

Alcohol will show up in a urine test for 1-2 days. (The length of time depends on the test used, the amount you drink, if you have other medical conditions and your own metabolism. Please use this figure as a guide only).

What help is available?

« Back to Types of Drugs page
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