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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How many alcoholic units are a healthy amount?

    My friend and I were wondering, if we were to drink a high amount of alcoholic units would you survive? And how much is the recommended units are suggested to be a healthy amount?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1


    Nikki Warren


    Nikki Warren is committed to preconception care, natural fertility, and pregnancy through to postnatal care. Nikki is a degree qualified Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, Doula and … View Profile

    Any more than 5 standard drinks in one sitting is considered to be a “binge drink”.  The effects on the body are numerous - your liver, kidneys and brain will suffer as a result of binge drinking and if you drink a substantial amount of alcohol, you are at risk of shutting down the “breathing centre” in your brain and you could also pass out and risk choking on your own vomit, so to answer your question, yes it is possible to die from drinking too much alcohol. 

    There is also a risk with females that they could have an unplanned pregnancy and could unknowingly be harming the foetus before they find out they're pregnant. 

    For those women trying to conceive, drinking alcohol during the preconception period is not a good idea either - it can affect fertility, disrupts hormone balance (because alcohol is oestrogenic) and is not conducive to the production of a healthy egg.  For men, it reduces sperm count, can affect the motility and morphology of the sperm (because alcohol is toxic) and because it is oestrogenic, it can affect their hormone status as well (perhaps a reason why some men who are heavy drinkers end up with “man boobs”).

    Lastly, there is nothing more unattractive than a person who is completely wasted. 

  • 1


    Dr Toni Metelerkamp

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Toni works with adults and couples, and specialises in diagnosing and treating anxiety (panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder), phobias, substance and gambling, addictions, suicide and … View Profile

    Drinking alcohol quickly in a short time increases the concentration of alcohol in your blood. A high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) interferes with both mental and physical functioning. Nerve functions are servery compromised, which impacts breathing, heartbeat and gagging reflexes; body temperature can drop, resulting in cardiac arrest, and blood sugar levels can drop and cause seizures. Risk taking behaviour typically increases with alcohol use; judgement is impaired mood can initially be elevated, not always, but either way is them followed by a mood slump.

    Alcohol poisoning requires immediate medical attention to remove the alcohol from your body because it can be fatal. In severe cases breathing may stop, a heart attack may occur, or as Nikki warren described, you could choke on your own vomit while unconscious, which would cause death by asphyxiation. Severe dehydration also occurs with high levels of alcohol consumption and this increases the risk of brain damage. 
    Know how much you are drinking and manage the risks …. Alcohol can be measured in either standard drinks (SD) or units (grams), but most people keep track of drinking using standard drinks (SD).  The amount of alcohol in a standard drink depends on the type of alcohol. For example, with beer it depends on the strength of the beer: 375ml of full strength beer is 1.4 SD, 375ml of mid strength beer is 1 SD and 375ml of lite beer is .08 SD. 
    The Australian Government has national guidelines to hep manage the risks associated with drinking alcohol. These guidelines suggest no more than 2 SD per day reduces the risk from alcohol related disease or injury over your life and no more than 4 SD, at any one time, reduces the risk of alcohol related injury from that specific occasion.

    Remember alcohol consumption always carries a risk, and things like gender, age, mental health, drug use, and some medical conditions can change how alcohol affects you. Alcohol is a drug so any other legal drugs (e.g. prescription medication) and illegal drugs (e.g. cannabis) can interact with alcohol.
    A hangover is essentially when your body has been poisoned by alcohol. Interestingly, as a culture, we don’t boast about getting food poisoning but we do boast about drinking excessive amounts and having a hangover, but essentially for your body it’s the same as food poisoning.
    Drinking alcohol can affect your liver, cause brain damage, heart disease, high blood pressure and increases the risk of many cancers. It also increases risk of injury through road trauma, violence, falls and accidental death. The risks associated with alcohol are cumulative across your lifetime, so the more you drink the greater the risks.
    You can drink responsibly. Minimise the risk of alcohol related difficulties by balancing enjoyment with the potential harm that can be caused by excessive alcohol consumption. 

    Finally, remember growing up and becoming an adult means you make the decisions. Make smart decisions. 


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