Learn to take control of the grog before it takes control of you.
Most people think a few beers at a sausage sizzle or a couple of glasses of wine with dinner are okay. Sure, the grog is okay in moderation, but if you drink too much you can do serious damage to your body.
This means it’s really important to remember that – even if you’re only having a few drinks – alcohol is a drug that can seriously affect your health.
The grog in our community
The good news is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians are less likely to drink alcohol than non-Indigenous Australians. But those of us who do drink are more likely to drink at dangerous levels.
The result of this is that young Indigenous people are nearly two and a half times more likely to die from alcohol-related causes.
To protect our young fellas and help our community to be stronger – now and in the future – we need to start changing the way we think about alcohol.
Take charge of your health
Alcohol is a drug. This means that, just like any other drug, it has the potential to become addictive and get out of control.
Drinking alcohol can affect you in many different ways – from making you put on a bit of weight or causing you to make a fool of yourself in front of family and friends through to more serious or even life-threatening conditions like brain damage or liver disease.
Alcohol has also been shown to increase serious anti-social behaviour like domestic violence and criminal activity like vandalism or drink-driving.
So if you really want to take charge of your health one of the best ways you can do this to take charge of your drinking.
Controlling your drinking
So how can you keep drinking under control?
If you find you’re drinking too much it’s a good idea to avoid places, activities and even people that you associate with alcohol until you get your drinking under control. You might also want to set yourself some “personal rules”.
For example – put a limit on the number of drinks you’re allowed to have each week, choose at least one or two alcohol-free days each week, and limit the number of drinks you can have in one sitting. You might also want to consider cutting the grog out completely for a month or two.
Some other suggestions to help you control your drinking:
- Don’t keep grog in the house
- Don’t drink by yourself
- Alternate every alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic drink
- Drink slowly – try only having two drinks an hour
- Try low-alcohol drinks like light beer
Your local doctor or Aboriginal Medical Service can help you with ideas and offer you support with cutting down on the grog. You should also ask your family and friends to support you.
You don’t need the grog to have fun
These days, grog is used to celebrate everything – from the birth of a child to graduations, weddings – even to honour people’s passing at funerals.
But there are lots of ways you can celebrate and have fun without using alcohol. Just getting together with friends and talking, playing music, eating and drinking non-alcoholic drinks can be a fun, safe and trouble-free way to celebrate.
So next time you’re planning a get-together, think about making it an alcohol-free event. If you are going to serve alcohol, remember to also serve plenty of food. You can also try limiting the amount of alcohol you provide, only supplying enough alcohol for one or two drinks per guest, or only serve light beer. Also make sure there is plenty of soft drink and fruit juice.
How Alcohol Affects You
Short term effects of alcohol
Alcohol is absorbed by your body through your stomach. It then goes into your bloodstream and all through your body. The effect alcohol has on you will depend on things like your age, your sex and your weight as well as how much food you have eaten and how much alcohol you have had to drink.
A small amount of alcohol can affect your judgement and your coordination. It can cause dizziness, shortness of breath, slurring of speech and vomiting.
Alcohol also makes you lose your inhibitions, which means you might do something silly or embarrassing that you’ll regret later.
Long term effects of alcohol
If you drink too much alcohol for too long you’re more likely to become addicted to it. Long term drinkers can suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking, including severe anxiety, tremors and hallucinations.
Alcohol abuse can also damage important parts of the body like the liver, the brain and the kidneys. If you drink while you’re pregnant it can also hurt your unborn baby.
People who abuse alcohol are also much more likely to suffer from mental problems like depression.
Some of the major long-term health risks associated with drinking alcohol include cirrhosis of the liver, cancer (especially of the mouth, throat and food pipe), brain damage, memory loss, heart disease and sexual problems (especially in men).