Alcohol, or ethanol, is the most commonly used recreational drug in the world due to its legal status in most countries. This allows for labelling of alcoholic products by a percentage alcohol by volume, which allows the person drinking it to know how strong their drink is. While alcohol has been consumed for centuries, advances in neuroscience are showing the severe consequences of alcohol intoxication.

Please read ME for more general information about recreational drugs.


Know your limits


Careful mixing


Safe sex


Here are the most common effects of alcohol. You won’t necessarily experience all these effects, every time you consume the drug, and it is possible that you may feel other effects not listed here.

The effects entail (from positive to negative):

    • relaxation
    • happiness
    • increased sociability
    • lowered inhibitions
    • slurred speech
    • flushed skin
    • sleepiness
    • difficult focusing eyes
    • tolerance with repeated use within a few days
    • reduced impulse control
    • decreased coordination
    • nausea, vomiting (vomiting while unconscious can kill, position the person in the recovery position)
    • reduced ability to judge own impairment
    • emotional volatility (anger, violence, sadness, etc)
    • erectile dysfunction
    • increased difficulty in achieving orgasm in some females
    • frequent urination (more with beer or wine)
    • dizziness and confusion
    • blackouts and memory loss at high doses

* Much more common among first-time users

Dose and Onset

How? How Much? When? For how Long?

As with any drug, the correct dose for you depends on factors such as weight, gender, metabolism, whether you have taken the drug recently or not, amongst many others. Read our Dosing and Tolerance section in Me for more information.

How you take it matters...

The most common method to alcohol consumption is oral, however, recently people have been inhaling alcohol as well. If you want to learn more about how the method of administration affects you, read our Me section.

How much?

Alcohol is metabolised relatively quickly, however, it is more difficult for the body to get rid of the toxins with increasing doses. Therefore, we suggest to limit your dose if you want to be on the safe side!

Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week. Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.

What is a unit in the UK?

alcohol units

Source: NHS

Take this quiz on Quizmeter to compare how much you drink to others like you.

When do the effects kick in?

  • Total duration of effects when drinking alcohol

    1.5 - 3 hrs

  • Onset

    15 - 30 mins

  • Coming up

    15 - 20 mins

  • Plateau

    30 - 90 mins

  • Coming down

    45 - 60 mins


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Harm reduction

There are certain precautions you should take before drinking alcohol. The advice below helps to prepare you both physically and mentally. We want you to be safe and enjoy your experience as much as possible, so if you have a bad experience or are struggling with an especially bad hangover, please take note of the advice below.




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Signs of dependence These are things to watch out for, but definitely do not mean you are addicted to a substance!

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is an incredibly addictive drug. Please read here how you can avoid dependence by changing your drinking habits. If you think you might be dependent on alcohol, these websites might be useful:

In the long term...

The Law

Due to its legal status, alcohol consumers wrongly classify the drug as ‘safe’, as it has been approved for consumption. The truth is that due to a drug safety measure (active dose/lethal dose), we know that alcohol is actually one of the most dangerous recreational drugs. Why? This concept compares how much you have to drink to get drunk to how much you have to drink to die, and alcohol has the highest level.

More information, references, useful links...


Should I consume alcohol to protect from heart problems?

There is evidence to suggest that low and moderate drinking (i.e., within the lower risk guidelines) can protect against coronary heart disease, but it is a relatively small effect and it's best to try other, safer methods first.

“A healthy diet, taking regular exercise, stopping smoking - you should try these things before thinking about using alcohol as a protector against coronary heart disease because alcohol can make other problems for you.” says Professor Wallace.

Does drinking water cancel out the effects of alcohol?

Water or soft drinks do not cancel the effects of alcohol, but they do however slow down the pace of alcohol intake. Water also helps reducing the dehydration, helping the hangover next morning.

Does mixing drinks makes you more drunk?

Mixing drinks does not cause your hangover as the alcohol content does not change. However, mixing can irritate the stomach even more, leading to unpleasant side effects.

Does coffee sober you up?

Coffee can make you more alert and awake, but does not reduce the effects caused by alcohol. This makes drunk driving especially dangerous due to the impaired judgement and the perceived state of alertness caused by the coffee.


Useful links

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