Alcohol can affect all aspects of your health – short and long-term, physical and mental. It’s especially important for pregnant women to understand the dangers of drinking alcohol.

How alcohol affects the body

Each person reacts differently to alcohol depending on their gender, age, metabolism, genetics, drinking history and body make-up.

In general, alcohol starts affecting your brain within five minutes of drinking and takes about one hour to process each standard drink. It has a cumulative effect over a lifetime meaning your past, present and future drinking will affect your general health now and in the future.

The immediate effects of alcohol create feelings of relaxation, wellbeing and increased self-confidence. As we drink more, these pleasant feelings can affect coordination and thought processes, loss of inhibition, loss of balance, misinterpretation of verbal and non-verbal cues, unconsciousness and even death.

This section contains a range of information, statistics and resources to help you understand the way alcohol affects your health.