By Sparky

When you have finished this session, you will be able to recognise some of the signs and/or symptoms and describe the following things about:

1. Signs and/or symptoms of unsafe use regarding health, work or study, and relationships.

2. Strategies to manage pressures to use alcohol and other drugs.

-Health: The feeling of needing to drink to get through the day. Shaking, hangover, poor skin (spot and blemish outbreaks) and hair health, stomach and digestive problems, internal organ damage, internal bleeding. Overdoses of alcohol and other drugs possibly causing brain damage and/or death. Lack of concentration, nausea and vomiting, loss of coordination. 

“My recovery is the single greatest accomplishment of my life. Without that, the rest of my life would have fallen apart.”

Actor, Martin Sheen

-Work or Study: The person becomes unreliable at work or study, not producing what is expected, turning up late, increased sick days, withdrawing from colleagues/ fellow students/tutors, picking arguments and possibly losing employment.  All the issues may have a financial impact on the person.

Or becoming unreliable regarding study, not attending school or university, turning up late. Attending with a ‘hangover’, unable to concentrate, not presenting work on time or dropping out completely.

-Relationships: Alcohol and drugs may cause conflict within the family/whanau and friends and social isolation.

The person may become over friendly or aggressive with others. The person may find that they are losing their friends or that people do not wish to spend time with them anymore. There may be a reduction in invites to events that they would usually be included in.

They may find themselves being avoided or ignored.

Family members may become intolerant of the person being around and/or issue warnings about their behaviour before a social gathering. 


Can you think of a time that you or others you know may have been affected by any of the signs and symptoms we have discussed? Write down your thoughts on a separate piece of paper and keep it to help you complete the assessment.

Strategies to manage pressures to use alcohol and other drugs.

-Recognise that alcohol and/or other drugs may be an issue for you or others.

-Ask for support from the people around you and professional help if required.

-Participate in activities that do not involve drinking and/or drugs.

-Identify situations where drinking or drugs are likely and avoid them, if practical.

-Inform others if they are applying pressure for people to drink or take drugs and be open. It is ok to say, “no thanks” without explanation, there are other ways of saying “no” such as “I don’t feel like it”, “I don’t feel well” or “I am taking medication”.

-Make drinking a complementary activity instead of the whole activity.

-Be aware of ‘Spiking”, which means to put alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink without their knowledge or permission.

Have you or others that you know had to manage the pressure to use? Write down your thoughts on a separate piece of paper and keep it to help you complete the assessment.

It is good practice to know the alcohol content of what is being consumed, please see the chart below.

Alcohol content of a standard drink

The standard drinks measure is a simple way for you to work out how much alcohol you are drinking. It measures the amount of pure alcohol in a drink. One standard drink equals 10 grams of pure alcohol.

330 ml can of beer @ 4% alcohol = 1 standard drink

100 ml glass of table wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 1 standard drink

335 ml of RTD spirits @ 8% alcohol = 2.1 standard drinks

750 ml of bottle of wine @ 13% alcohol = 7.7 standard drinks

1000 ml bottle of spirits @ 47% alcohol = 37 standard drinks

3 litre cask of wine @ 12.5% alcohol = 30 standard drinks

Have a look at the Guide to Standard Drinks. It shows how many standard drinks there are in some other common types of alcohol.

Cocktails can contain as much alcohol as 5 or 6 standard drinks, depending on the recipe.

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