Alcohol is a depressant – it slows your body and mind down. Not everyone manages the same amount of alcohol in the same way, and effects vary depending on how much is taken. Common effects can include feeling relaxed, loss of inhibitions, reduced co-ordination and concentration, slurred speech, intense moods and impaired decision making.
With pubs and clubs as popular social and meeting places, drinking is common in the LGBT community. Binge drinking is common among gay, bisexual and MSM and can cause major problems.
Binge drinking in Ireland is considered to be six standard alcoholic drinks or more in one sitting. In the recent MISI (men who have sex with men internet survey) data showed that 58% of respondents reported that they binge drink on a typical drinking occasion.
Many feel that they can be themselves when they drink, while others find alcohol a way to block out disturbing memories or thoughts. Or perhaps it’s less complicated than that and simply about keeping up with our friends, or having fun and not being aware of how much you are consuming. But before long, drinking can affect our work, sleep, relationships and responsibilities.
Knowing how to have fun safely can be a learned skill. Being embarrassed about your behaviour or not being able to remember the night before, getting into arguments, or having risky sexual encounters, can all be avoided if you re-learn some drinking behaviour.
Often counselling can help to address underlying issues and can equip us better to handle certain issues without needing a drink to do so. Check out our support & services section for more information including counselling and Alcoholics Anonymous groups.
Alcohol reduces inhibitions and intensifies moods such as sadness and anger.
Poor decision making and unsafe choices, such as unprotected sex, saying or doing things you later regret, or drink driving.
Memory loss – like not remembering what you said or did.
Larger amounts can cause overdose – vomiting, passing out or even death.
Physical harms such as damaging your brain, liver, heart and kidneys, or being injured from fights, crashes, falls.
Being drunk can make you vulnerable and less able to defend yourself if someone tries to hurt you or take advantage of you.
Dependence can occur, where your body starts to rely on alcohol to get by.
Start with a non-alcoholic drink and some food. Try to space out alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks.
Pace yourself – keep track of how much you’re drinking. Stick to standards.
In Ireland, a standard drink is the equivalent of 1 pub measure (35.5ml) of spirits or small glass of wine (100ml) or a half pint of Stout / Large / Cider.
One standard drink contains roughly 10 grams of pure alcohol, taking the average person about one hour to process although this will vary from person to person.
Try to keep it under 4 standard drinks and have alcohol free days every week.
Aim for one drink per hour. Avoid buying in rounds.
Keep an eye on your booze. Don’t leave it unattended. Drink spiking does happen.
Carry condoms and lube with you if you plan (or happen) to hook up while drinking.
Watch your moods – if you are getting too loud, upset or angry – slow down and chill out for a bit.
Avoid other drugs – including smoking. Mixing types of alcohol (eg wine then beer) or using other drugs increases your risk of losing control.
Plan how you are getting home. Tell friends where you are going.
If you hook-up and go home with someone, remember that you don’t have to have sex if you’re feeling too drunk or just don’t want to anymore.
Plan for tomorrow – sleep, drink lots of water, eat well to help your body recover.
If you wake up the next day and can’t remember the night before, check out our advice here.