Alcohol, like any other drug, can be harmful. In fact, alcohol is the most widely used psychoactive drug in Australia1 and one of the most harmful: alcohol causes more chronic diseases and is linked to more deaths than many illicit drugs.1,2
While there is no safe level of drinking, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends that:
Additionally, not drinking is the safest option if you are driving4-7 or operating other heavy machinery, swimming or engaging in water sports, supervising children or young people.
For people who do choose to drink alcohol, there are several strategies for reducing the harm associated with alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is a depressant drug. Consuming alcohol with other depressant drugs such as benzodiazepines, GHB, ketamine or opioids can increase the risk of overdose and cause loss of consciousness, nausea and vomiting.8
Combining alcohol with stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamines or MDMA can also be dangerous, as both alcohol and stimulants can cause dehydration. Additionally, some stimulants can mask the effects of alcohol, leading people to drink more.9
Drink spiking occurs when a person deliberately adds alcohol or another drug to a drink without the knowledge of the person who will be drinking it. Alcohol is the most common substance used to spike someone’s drink, by adding alcohol to a non-alcoholic drink, or making it stronger.10
To reduce the risk of drink spiking: