All About Alcohol

How long does alcohol stay in your system? And what are the effects of alcohol? Choices For Life answers your questions.

What is alcohol?

Alcohol consists of a chemical called ethanol which impacts your body by entering the bloodstream through your stomach and affecting the brain. Alcohol is a depressant and once it has been transported to your brain it dulls the central nervous system.

How strong is alcohol?

There are many types of alcohol - beer, wine, spirits - some have more alcohol content than others but all will have an affect on your body.

The % of alcohol in each type of drink depends on how long it ferments.

Spirits like whisky and vodka take longer to make, are therefore higher in alcohol and generally more expensive than a small bottle of beer.

The strength of drinks are shown as a percentage of alcohol (usually shown on the side of the bottle or can as ABV). This shows the amount of pure alcohol there is compared with the total volume of liquid. For example ABV 15% means that out of the total drink, 15% of the liquid is pure alcohol.

What is a unit of alcohol?

The strength of an alcoholic drink is measured in units. The stronger the drink is, the more units it has.

In Scotland a unit is 10ml of pure alcohol.

There is no recommended daily amount that young people under 18 should drink, because at this stage your body hasn't fully grown and developed. Therefore it could be damaging to have any amount of alcohol. Remember it is illegal to buy alcohol in the UK if you are under 18. Check out our section on the law relating to alcohol in Scotland.

How long does it take for my body to process alcohol?

There is no exact time, it depends on things like your age, weight and how used you are to drinking alcohol.

Remember if you drink your own alcoholic drinks at home, the measures are not controlled, so you might drink more and it could take your body a lot longer to process the alcohol.

A graphic depicting where alcohol came from. It was discovered as early as 10,000 BC

Check out more from Choices For Life on the dangers of alcohol and drugs.