Alcohol, or ethanol, is the most commonly used recreational drug in the world due to its legal status in most countries. This allows for labelling of alcoholic products by a percentage alcohol by volume, which allows the person drinking it to know how strong their drink is. While alcohol has been consumed for centuries, advances in neuroscience are showing the severe consequences of alcohol intoxication.

Please read ME for more general information about recreational drugs.


Drink water


Careful mixing


Safe sex


Here are the most common effects of alcohol. You won’t necessarily experience all these effects, every time you consume the drug, and it is possible that you may feel other effects not listed here.

The effects are (from positive to negative):

    • Relaxation
    • Happiness
    • Increased sociability
    • Slurred speech
    • Flushed skin
    • Sleepiness
    • Blurry, distorted vision
    • Higher impulsivity
    • Decreased coordination
    • Nausea, vomiting (vomiting while unconscious can kill! If a friend is unconscious due to alcohol, position the person in the recovery position)
    • Reduced ability to judge own impairment
    • Emotional volatility (anger, violence, sadness, etc)
    • Sexual dysfunctions (e.g. erectile dysfunction or difficulty reaching orgasms)
    • Dizziness and confusion
    • Blackouts and memory loss at high doses


* Much more common among first-time users

Dose and Onset

How? How Much? When? For how Long?

As with any drug, the correct dose for you depends on factors such as weight, gender, metabolism, whether you have taken the drug recently or not, amongst many others. Read our Dosing and Tolerance section in Me for more information.

How you take it matters...

The most common method to alcohol consumption is oral, which we recommend as it is the best way to gauge how much you've had. Recently new trends, such as inhaling, have appeared but these are ill-understood and can be very dangerous. If you want to learn more about how the method of administration affects you, read our Me section.

How much?

Alcohol is metabolised relatively quickly, however, it is more difficult for the body to get rid of the toxins with increasing doses. Therefore, we suggest to limit your dose if you want to be on the safe side!

Men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week. Spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.

What is a unit in the UK?

alcohol units

Source: NHS

Take this quiz on Quizmeter to compare how much you drink to others like you.

When do the effects kick in?

  • Total duration: 1.5 - 3 hrs
  • Onset: 15 - 30 mins
  • Coming up: 15 - 20 mins
  • Plateau: 30 - 90 mins
  • Coming down: 45 - 60 mins



+ ? =

dangerous to synergy bar


Click one of the drugs below and see how it mixes with .



Harm reduction

There are certain precautions you should take before drinking alcohol. The advice below helps to prepare you both physically and mentally. We want you to be safe and enjoy your experience as much as possible, so if you have a bad experience or are struggling with an especially bad hangover, please take note of the advice below.




Please activate Javascript.

Read more


Signs of dependence These are things to watch out for, but definitely do not mean you are addicted to a substance!

Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is an incredibly addictive drug. If you think you might be dependent on alcohol, these websites might be useful:

In the long term...

The Law

Due to its legal status, alcohol consumers wrongly classify the drug as ‘safe’, as it has been approved for consumption. The truth is that due to a drug safety measure (active dose/lethal dose), we know that alcohol is actually one of the most dangerous recreational drugs. Why? This concept compares how much you have to drink to get drunk to how much you have to drink to die, and alcohol has the highest level.

More information, references, useful links...


Should I consume alcohol to protect from heart problems?

There is evidence to suggest that low and moderate drinking (i.e., within the lower risk guidelines) can protect against coronary heart disease, but it is a relatively small effect and it's best to try other, safer methods first.

Does drinking water cancel out the effects of alcohol?

Water or soft drinks do not cancel the effects of alcohol. However, they do slow down the pace of alcohol intake. Water also helps reducing the dehydration, helping the hangover next morning.

Does mixing drinks makes you more drunk?

Mixing drinks does not cause your hangover as the alcohol content does not change. However, mixing can irritate the stomach even more, leading to unpleasant side effects.

Does coffee sober you up?

Coffee can make you more alert and awake, but does not reduce the effects caused by alcohol. This makes drunk driving especially dangerous due to the impaired judgement and the perceived state of alertness caused by the coffee.


Useful links



If you are interested by this guide and would like to host workshops for your students or attend one of events, check our workshops page or send us an email.

If you support our work please consider donating. If you’d like to know more about where your donation will go send us an email.