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  • HRVic



Alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive drug in Australia. Given its legal status, it is widely accepted and readily available. The intoxicating ingredient, ethanol, is found in beer, wine and spirits and is produced by fermenting sugars, yeasts and starches. Alcohol is a depressant that acts on the central nervous system (CNS) slowing down breathing and heart rate making your body and mind more relaxed. Alcohol is quickly absorbed through the stomach and small intestine. It’s the amount of alcohol (ethanol) you drink, not the overall volume of beverage consumed, which affects you. Beer usually has 3-5% ethanol and wine can have 11-15%, whereas spirits can have up to 40-50%. Alcohol is a natural product of fermenting sugars. Beer is usually made from grains such as barley, wheat and rice; cider is made from apples, pears and other fruits; wine is made from grapes; and spirits are usually made from grains or fruits, but can also be made from plants. In Australia, the legal age for drinking and buying alcohol is 18 years old. Moonshine is the term used for home brew and bootleg liquor. Poorly fermented alcohol can have harmful contaminants.



Total duration: 1.5 – 3 hours Onset: 15-30 minutes

Peak: 15-90 minutes

Coming down: 45-60 minutes Hangover/after effects: 1-36 hours



Alcohol does not have a ‘half life’ like other drugs and passes rapidly through your system. Alcohol is metabolised at a constant rate, but some people may feel the effects of alcohol for longer amounts of time (In general terms, your body metabolises a standard drink in 60-90 minutes). After excessive alcohol consumption you may find that your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is still over the legal limit several hours after you have ceased drinking.




  • Giddiness, dizziness

  • Nausea, vomiting

  • Reduced impulse control

  • Reduced ability to attain/maintain an erection

  • Increased difficulty in reaching orgasm

  • Frequent urination

  • Decreased coordination

  • Mild to severe hangover after heavy use

  • Foetal damage in pregnant women at high dose or frequency

  • Analgesia (pain relief)

  • Dehydration

  • Decreased coordination

  • Drowsiness

  • Flushed skin

  • Slurred speech

  • Brain and liver damage (hepatitis & cirrhosis) *LESS COMMON

With heavy use

  • Blackouts and memory loss at high doses *LESS COMMON

  • Coma and death at extreme doses *RARE


  • Elevated mood

  • Happiness

  • Relaxation

  • Emotional instability (aggression, anger, violence, sadness etc)

  • Increased confidence/ cockiness

  • Depression and despair


  • Increased sociability

  • Reduced social inhibitions

  • Changed response to sexual stimuli

  • ‘Beer Goggles’- others appear more attractive

  • Impaired ability to make adequate decisions

  • Confusion

  • Memory loss *RARE



‘Polydrug use has many possible outcomes. What could be fun for one person could be dangerous for another. We recommend you proceed with caution.


Ketamine - nausea, vomiting, blackouts

MXE - High risk of memory loss, vomiting, severe ataxia

GHB - Particularly risky combination. Can easily result in an overdose leading to loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting.

Opioids - Both substances potentiate the ataxia & sedation caused by the other and can lead to unexpected loss of consciousness

Tramadol - Heavy CNS depressants, risk of seizures

Benzos - Intensifies the effects of alcohol and can lead to blackouts.

Other medications ie. antipsychotics, antidepressants, some antibiotics


Cocaine - Forms coca-ethylene in the body which is more harmful than the individual substances & creates a higher chance of dependency. Illusion of being less intoxicated. MAOIs – Tyramine (found in some drinks) can have dangerous reactions with MAOIs, causing an increase in blood pressure

Stimulants - May be able to drink more but can increase risk of alcohol poisoning

MDMA - Both MDMA and alcohol cause dehydration. SSRIs - May intensify the effects of alcohol.

It is not recommended to use alcohol if you have or are at risk of:

Pregnant or breastfeeding, Under age of 18, Heart issues, Mental health issues, Depression & Anxiety



Alcohol is detectable by roadside breath test, which measures the amount of alcohol in your breath. A breath test reading of 0.05 or higher is considered drink driving for fully licensed drivers in Australia (different limits apply for other license types e.g. probationary or heavy vehicle).

Generally to maintain a legal BAC level for drivers is: Men* - 2 x standard drinks in the first hour and 1x drink every 1.5 hours later

Women* - 1x standard drink in the first hour and 1x drink every 1.5 hours later

*Times are generalised and will vary based on differences in body mass, fat distribution, hormone levels and individual metabolism.

Roadside Police: Roadside breath testing will detect alcohol and any driver may be subject to a roadside behavioural impairment test. Wait at least 24 hours before driving. Consuming large quantities over a period of several hours can lengthen this time period.

Workplace: OHS law gives employers rights to test employees for drug use. This should be contained in workplace policy, it should be reasonable, and a risk assessment should be done to determine whether testing of employees is appropriate.

Urine: 1 hr - 3+ days after Hair: Up to 90 days Blood:15min - 2 days after



  • Use around people you trust and somewhere you feel safe.

  • Alternate with water and ensure you are hydrated before drinking.

  • Eat about 30 minutes before use and regularly throughout.

  • Check labels /track your standard drinks.

  • ‘Set’ = your mind + body. ‘Setting’ = environment. Be aware of factors that may affect your tolerance (other drugs/medications, stress/social anxiety menstrual cycle etc.).

  • Effects vary based on weight, age, hunger/hydration, general health, how often you drink and how well your liver functions.

  • Alcohol can be a volatile (and risky) drug to mix with other drugs. If you are going to take drugs, avoid or mod-erate your alcohol intake.

  • Try not to mix different types of alcohol.

  • It may be tempting to have a drink to ‘cure’ a hangover, but the effects of that drink will soon wear off as well.

  • Be aware of how alcohol affects your mood.

  • Although high levels of binge drinking have been normalised in Australia, it is not healthy to drink until you vomit, blackout.

  • Check in with yourself, slow down a little and enjoy the process—Excessive consumption may lead to alcohol poisoning.

Safer Handling

  • Never leave your drink unattended and order/pour your own drinks.

  • Don’t provide alcohol to people under 18. Know your local liquor laws.



  • Try not to mix different types of alcohol as this can make your hangover worse

  • It may be tempting to have a drink to ‘cure’ a hangover but the effects of that drink will soon wear off as well

  • Be aware of how alcohol affects your mood

  • Although high levels of binge drinking have been nor-malised in Australia, it is not healthy to drink until you vomit, blackout, etc regularly. Check in with yourself and use water and other non-alcoholic drinks to slow down a little and enjoy the process.



This resource has been made by people who use drugs for their peers & the wider community. The role of DanceWize is to provide credible & non-judgmental info to promote health & harm reduction. In an unregulated (illegal) market you don’t know the purity or dose of any drug and there is always some risk. You can educate yourself and practise harm reduction to reduce risk. Knowledge is power. #JUSTSAYKNOW

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