Choice Matters

If you choose to drink, it’s important to know how alcohol can impact your ability to make responsible choices.

Drinking impairs judgment, lowers inhibitions and increases the chance you will do something you regret, like unprotected sex, driving impaired, getting in a fight, damaging property or experiencing alcohol poisoning. Furthermore, alcohol contributes not only to health-related consequences, such as disease and injury, but also to social problems for individuals, families, workplaces and communities.

Alcohol is a depressant drug which slows down the parts of your brain that affect your thinking and behaviour, as well as your breathing and heart rate. While individual variation will affect a person’s experience, a healthy adult may expect the following adverse effects as their blood alcohol content (BAC) increases:

BACAdverse effects
0.05% – 0.08 g%Judgment and movement impaired
Inhibitions reduced
0.8% – 0.15 g%Speech slurred
Balance and coordination impaired
Reflexes slowed
Visual attention impaired
Unstable emotions
Nausea, vomiting
0.15% – 0.30 g%
Unable to walk without help
Apathetic, sleepy
Laboured breathing
Unable to remember events
Loss of bladder control
Possible loss of consciousness
Over 0.30 g%Coma

Alcohol Think Again, Government of Australia

Impaired Driving

Alcohol slows reaction time and reduces your ability to concentrate.

Just because you do not feel drunk, does not mean that you are not impaired. Impairment begins with the first sip of alcohol and can last for several hours after your last drink.

When you drive while impaired, you are putting yourself and others at risk.

In Canada, hundreds of people are killed every year and thousands are injured in impaired driving accidents. MADD Canada estimates that in 2010 approximately 1,082 fatalities were caused by impaired driving. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15 to 25 year olds, and alcohol is a factor in 50 per cent of those crashes.

While we know the financial costs associated with impaired driving in Canada are approximately $21 billion per year, it is impossible to quantify the loss and grief caused by this violent and fully preventable crime.

If you choose to drink, take a cab, arrange rides ahead of time or stay where you are, but NEVER drink and drive.

Risky Sexual Behaviors

Alcohol can impair our judgement and reduce inhibitions. Increased alcohol consumption can lead to unprotected sex, unintended pregnancy and/or sexually transmitted infections. 

Furthermore, we know that alcohol is the most common drug used in acts of sexual violence and/or assaults.

Alcohol Poisoning

High blood-alcohol levels can cause a person to pass out, have low blood pressure, experience low body temperature, coma, and even death. Vomiting isn’t a sign that you can continue drinking! It’s a signal to stop and could indicate alcohol poisoning. Vomiting is actually your body’s way of recognizing that it is being poisoned by alcohol and its response is to try and get the poison out of your body.

Other Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning include:

•Passing out
•Difficulty to awaken
•Slow, shallow breathing
•Slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute)
•Irregular breathing (a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
•Blue-tinged skin or pale skin
•Low body temperature (hypothermia)

Don’t delay, you could save a life by getting help sooner rather than later.

First Aid for Alcohol Poisoning

If the person is unconscious:

  • Ensure personal safety.
  • Place person in recovery position.
  • Call emergency services.
  • If possible, determine type of substance taken.
  • Keep the person warm.

If the person is conscious:

  • Call emergency services.
  • Don’t give food or water.
  • Reassure that help is coming.
  • If possible, determine type of substance taken.
  • Keep the person warm.

Recovery Position

If someone passes out from drinking too much, you can help by putting them in the recovery position. The most important thing is to keep the person’s airway open so fluids like vomit can drain from their mouth. Alcohol is a depressant and can affect the gag reflex which means someone could choke on their own vomit. When in the recovery position, a person is in a balanced position on their side with their head supported. It is important to check a person in the recovery position is still breathing regularly, watch for the chest to rise and fall.

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Alcohol and Injury

With every drink, the risk of accidents and/or injury increases for the person drinking and others around them. Leading causes of alcohol-related injury are: 

  • Motor vehicle crashes – 54 per cent
  • Falls – 16 per cent
  • Assaults – 14 per cent

Injuries most commonly happen at home, but are also present in the workplace. Up to 40 per cent of industrial fatalities and 47 per cent of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption and alcoholism. Additionally, those who consume alcohol at work are four more times more likely to injure themselves or someone else.

YOU can reduce you risks by knowing your limits!