What does alcohol do to me?

Alcohol can make you feel chatty and sociable by lowering your levels of anxiety and inhibitions. Drinking alcohol can cause an exaggeration of whatever mood you are in when you start to drink, potentially making you feel even happier or even more down. If you drink too much alcohol you will get a hangover (dehydration, sore head and stomach) the next day as your body processes the alcohol you consumed the night before.

What are the recommended alcohol intake guidelines?

For men it’s recommended that drinking less than 14 units per week is safest to our health. If you drink as much as 14 units it is best to spread this as evenly as possible across the week.

If you have one or two heavy drinking sessions per week you increase the risks to health from long-term illnesses, accidents and injuries.  When it comes to single drinking occasions you can keep the short term health risks at a low level by sticking to a few simple rules:

  • Limiting the total amount of alcohol you drink on any occasion;
  • Drinking more slowly, drinking with food, and alternating with water.

What are the health risks of drinking alcohol?

In the short term if you drink too much you will have a hangover the next day. The long term effects of regularly drinking above the recommended level is much more serious and includes increased risk of high blood pressure, liver damage, cancer, heart disease and mental health problems. Drinking too much can also affect pre-existing health conditions such as Diabetes and possibly lead to alcohol dependence. Regularly drinking above the recommended limit can also have an impact on your family and friendships, your finances and employment. 

What about alcohol and my sexual health?

Sometimes alcohol can contribute to increased risk of STIs and HIV because you can feel less inhibited and possibly make choices or engage in activities you might not normally choose to when sober. This can lead to more risky behaviours, including having sex when we might otherwise have not. In these situations you might not use a condom when you would normally, or damage the condom while putting it on or during sex. Drinking alcohol can also affect your testosterone levels leading to a loss of sex drive.

If you feel that your alcohol use is affecting your sexual health, you can speak to the staff at the Steve Retson Project.

What About PrEP?

PrEP is the name given to medicines that can be taken by someone who is HIV negative to reduce their risk of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP needs to be taken regularly and as instructed to keep the level of drug high enough to prevent infection. If PrEP isn’t taken as instructed the level of medication may not be high enough to stop HIV infection.

PrEP is not a catch-all safer sex strategy, PrEP only protects against HIV infection. You could still get other STIs like gonorrhoea, syphilis and chlamydia. As condoms are still the best way to prevent these and other STIs we recommend that you use condoms too.

You can find out more about PrEP in our PrEP FAQ section, including how it works, the eligibility criteria and how to make an appointment to talk to us about PrEP.

What can I do if I feel I need help with my alcohol use?

If you feel that your alcohol or drug use is beginning to affect your physical or mental health or your relationships it is important to speak to someone about it. You can speak to anyone you trust and feel comfortable discussing the issue with; it could be a friend, family member or a health professional.

You can speak to someone at Steve Retson Project if you feel able to or we can help you find the right the service to provide support.

You can contact us by calling 0141 211 8130 to make an appointment at one of our clinics.