Effects of Alcohol

Maybe you want to socialise over a jug of beer, hang out at the pub after work or have a few drinks over dinner. Modern pubs serve interesting and innovative alcoholic cocktails  that appeals to working adults and youth.

The active component of alcoholic beverages is ethanol, a compound that has a strong effect on the psyche. Ethanol is intoxicating and addictive.

Taken in small quantities, it lowers inhibitions making it a welcome icebreaker in social occasions. People talk a lot more and socialise with greater ease after a few drinks. Alcohol, in any amount, affects physical and mental abilities, lowering speed and accuracy. In excess, it can lead to drunken behaviour, increasing the risk of car accidents and personal injuries (e.g. permanent disability and death). 

Constant drinking disrupts family life due to irresponsible and violent behaviours as the drinker loses control of emotions over minor matters and may escalate into making unreasonable demands for money to spend on drinks [1].

Did You Know?

Alcohol contains a lot of calories. One gram of alcohol provides 7 calories, just a tad less than fat (9 calories per gram). If you drink alcohol regularly, do not be surprised if you sport a classic beer belly.

  • 1 can (330 ml) of beer -142kcal
  • Half glass (100ml) of wine (height of glass = 15cm) - 68kcal
  • 1 nip (30ml) of hard liquor - 61kcal
  • Excessive drinking can lead to obesity and is associated with the following health risks such as cancer of the mouth, throat and oesophagus; liver diseases (such as hardening of liver); brain damage and memory loss; sexual dysfunction, especially male impotency [2,3].

    If you are below the age of 18 years, you should not drink alcohol because your body processes it more slowly. So, the negative effects last longer and are stronger than that experienced by an adult.

    Those of legal age to drink, do note that your drinking habits can court both health and social risks. Here are some suggestions to help you minimise your risks:

    1.Moderation is Key

    Check if you can drink

    Before you start drinking alcohol, check with your doctor if you can. Individuals with health conditions such as a family history of high blood triglycerides, uncontrolled high blood pressure, inflammation of the pancreas, liver disease, certain blood disorders, heart failure and kidney disease, should not drink.

    Always run your medication list by your doctor and ask specifically if you can drink alcohol while you are taking them [1].

    Never ever mix social drugs with alcohol as it is illegal to take drugs in Singapore and can lead to serious physical, behavioural and health complications. Mixing drugs with alcohol can amplify the effects of each substance and trigger dangerous interactions [4].


    If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation. Men should drink no more than two standard drinks a day, and women, no more than one. A standard alcoholic drink is defined as a can (330 ml) of regular beer, half a glass (100 ml) of wine or 1 nip (30 ml) of spirit.

    2. Eat Before and During a Drinking Session

    Eating a snack or meal before and during a drinking session will help slow down alcohol absorption. Avoid salty food as they make you thirsty and, you may drink more alcohol to quench your thirst.

    At drinking sessions, drink slowly, sip the alcoholic drink, alternate it with a non-alcoholic drink and eat some food along with the drink [5].

    3. Do Not Drink and Drive

    Alcoholic drinks impacts your hand and eye co-ordination. So, if you plan to drink, take a taxi to the party. After you have had a drink, take a taxi back or accept the services of a valet to drop you home. On the same note, after you drink do not attempt to take on tasks that require you to pay focussed attention such as operating machinery, diving, swimming and boating.

    Did you know?

    Under Section 67(1) of the Road Traffic Act [6], if your breath alcohol content is more than 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath; or more than 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, you can be charged with drink-driving. Moreover, even when the alcohol content is below the legal limit, a driver can still be convicted of drink driving if there is evidence to show that he cannot control the vehicle.

    4. Watch Out for Dependence

    Since alcohol is potentially addictive, it is important to be observant about the way you handle it. Keep  track of how often and how much you drink. Share your results with a close family member or friend to keep yourself accountable ,  in case you slip into the habit of drinking too much.

    5. Get Help, If Needed

    Be honest and seek help if you have a problem with the amount of alcohol you drink. Several agencies provide help to overcome alcohol dependence. Reach out to any one of them and, follow up until you get the help you need.

    Get Help


    So Remember...

    • Alcoholic beverages contain a strong psychoactive agent, ethanol. Drinking alcoholic beverages presents both short-term and long-term health risks.

    • Men should consume no more than two standard drinks a day, and women, no more than one.

    • As alcohol is addictive, be watchful of your drinking pattern. If you need help to break a habit or an addiction, seek professional help.

    Read these next:
    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
    2. Rehm, J. 2011, The Risks Associated with Alcohol Use and Alcoholism, Alcohol Res Health 934(2): 135-143. Accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3307043/ on 1 Feb 2022.
    3. Acrackal BS, et al. 2007, Prevalence of sexual dysfunction in male subjects with alcohol dependence, Indian J Psychiatry, 49(2): 109-112. Accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2917074 on 1 Feb 2022.
    4. Alcohol Rehab Guide "Drinking and Drugs" 2021, https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/alcohol/drinking-drugs/. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
    5. National Health Service, "The Risks of Drinking Too Much", 2019. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/alcohol-support/the-risks-of-drinking-too-much/. Accessed 1 Feb 2022.
    6. Attorney-General's Chambers of Singapore. Road Traffic Act 1961. Government Of Singapore, Singapore. Accessed from: https://sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/RTA1961?ProvIds=P14-#pr67-