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Alcohol: How does it affect me?

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Alcohol is often normalized and has become a part of many social practices. Many people choose not to drink alcohol at all (abstinence). 

It is very important to avoid consuming alcohol when pregnant. Alcohol can affect the normal growth and development of your baby.  

Alcohol can also interfere with certain prescription medications, which is why it’s often recommended to avoid it.  

Mixing alcohol with recreational or street drugs can be very dangerous. Alcohol can increase or reduce the effects of certain drugs. This may lead to people using more of the drug than they originally intended. This can increase the risk of severe intoxication or overdose.  

Crushed beer can

Did you know?

A standard drink is: 

  • 340ml / 12oz of beer – regular size can or bottle (5% alcohol)  

  • 140ml / 5oz of wine (12% alcohol) 

  • One 45ml / 1.5oz shot of spirit (40% alcohol) 

How does alcohol affect me?

  • Alcohol produces feelings of well-being and relaxation and can make you feel really good (euphoric) or reduce inhibitions (self consciousness). 

  • Alcohol depresses your central nervous system. That means it slows down brain activity and thought processes. It can affect bodily functions including breathing and your heart rate.  

  • Alcohol’s effect on you depends on the amount consumed, your body size, age and gender, how quickly you drink, whether you eat and what you eat, medications, and prior experience with alcohol use.  

Drinking too much can cause short-term side effects including:

  • Impulsiveness  

  • Impaired concentration and judgement  

  • Delayed reaction  

  • Slurred speech  

  • Blurred vision  

  • Nausea  

  • Impaired memory  

Drinking too much can lead to severe intoxication, alcohol poisoning, and life-threatening conditions, including:  

  • Unconsciousness 

  • Coma 

  • Breathing stops (arrested breathing) 

  • Death 

What are the long-term impacts of heavy drinking?

When alcohol use is heavy and frequent, there can be long-term side effects on your mental and physical health. 

Damage to organs, including: 

  • Liver 

  • Brain 

  • Heart 

  • Stomach 

Alcohol is a carcinogen. That means heavy use can increase your risk of cancers including: 

  • Liver 

  • Breast 

  • Throat  

  • Stomach 


Chronic drinking can also lead to: 

  • High blood pressure  

  • Lowered immune response  

  • Trouble getting and keeping an erection (impotence) 

  • Loss of appetite 

  • Disruptions to your sleep 

  • Anxiety and depression (including thoughts of suicide)  

  • Unbalanced hormones 



Wiichihiiwaauwin (Mental Health) Helpline

Service available 24/7. Cree speakers and Elders are available upon request 

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