Alcohol and your health

The Northern Territory (NT) has the highest rate of alcohol consumption per person in Australia.

Drinking alcohol above the safe recommended limits can lead to many health problems. You are putting yourself at risk of injury, disease and death.

To find out more about alcohol and the dangers of mixing alcohol with other drugs go to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website.

Find out about changes to who can buy takeaway alcohol in the NT .

Recommended limits

It takes one hour for your body to process one standard drink - nothing will speed up this process.

If you are healthy you should drink no more than two standard drinks each day to reduce the risk of disease or injury.

On a single occasion of drinking you should drink no more than four standard drinks to reduce your risk of injury.

You should always have at least two days each week of not drinking any alcohol.

This will give your liver a break from processing alcohol and help stop you becoming dependent on alcohol.

Binge drinking

Binge drinking means drinking a lot over a few hours or non-stop over days and weeks.

This can be very dangerous as it makes the harms from alcohol worse. Drinking a lot can also stop you thinking clearly and acting sensibly.

Standard drinks

In Australia, all bottles, casks and cans of alcoholic beverages must show on the label the number of standard drinks they contain.

To find out about the national guidelines for drinking alcohol go to the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Alcohol and driving

It is safest not to drink if you are going to drive.

Find out more information about alcohol and driving.

Short term effects

Drinking fast is the major cause of death from alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol slows down your brain's control over your breathing. Drinking too much can cause your breathing to drop causing unconsciousness or even death.

Alcohol is diluted by the water content in your body. Females have more fat and less water, so the alcohol is not diluted as much. This is why women get drunk quicker than men.

Long term effects

The risk of harm from drinking alcohol increases with the amount you drink.

If you regularly drink above the recommended safe levels any of the following can happen:

  • you increase your likelihood of a stroke - three times more likely for men and 13 times more likely for women
  • you are nearly eight times more likely to develop cirrhosis of the liver
  • you are three times as likely to develop liver cancer
  • your liver can be enlarged, which constricts the blood vessels between liver and stomach - if these swollen blood vessels burst you can bleed to death within minutes
  • you can kill brain cells, which affects your brain function
  • men can suffer from erectile dysfunction.

If you are under 18 years old

Not drinking alcohol is the best option for children and young people who are under 18.

Children under 15 are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking. If you are between 15 and 17 years old you should delay drinking as long as possible.

Pregnancy and breast feeding

Drinking alcohol when you are pregnant can harm your baby. If you are planning to get pregnant, not drinking is the best option.

Find out more information about drinking and pregnancy.

Where to get help

If you are affected by alcohol or drug use, you can call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1800 131 350.

The service is a 24 hour phone counselling and information service.

Further information and resources

For more information and resources, go to the Department of Health website.

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Last updated: 16 August 2018