Trimester 1, 1997

How alcohol may affect human behaviour
4. A young man started behaving in an aggressive and abusive manner after he had a number of alcoholic drinks at a party. The next day he was behaving quite normally and was quite concerned when shown a video of his behaviour the previous night. Explain how alcohol may affect human behaviour.

Some Facts(1)

Australian industry loses more than one billion dollars a year because of sickness caused by alcohol.

Alcohol plays a part in more than 50% of serious crimes in Australia. In violent crimes it plays an even bigger part: more than 75% of them are linked to alcohol.

About half of the people killed in road accidents are killed because somebody has drunk to much.

Effects of alcohol on human behaviour

From the above facts it is clear that alcohol has a major impact on the lives of Australians. This is particularly more so because it is not illegal and because it is so widely used.

The effects of alcohol on a individual\'s body vary according to: (2)

with the amount consumed.
the way the alcohol is taken.
the individual\'s body (size weight, health).
the individual\'s experience.
the individual\'s mood.
the circumstance in which alcohol is consumed (with food, in a social gathering, with other drugs etc.)
The immediate effects of alcohol on an individual varies but can produce a wide range of effects including: (2)

Loss of inhibitions.
Flushing and dizziness.
General impairment of brain and nervous system functions.
General loss of co-ordination.
Impairment of motor (movement) skills.
Slow reactions.
Blurred vision and slurred speech.
General impairment of senses (e.g. touch, sight, speech, etc.)

Children and young people are usually more affected by alcohol than adults. This is because of their lower body weight and lack of tolerance.

The disturbing aspect is that one is not generally aware of these changes. Instead, the individual think\'s he/she is behaving more efficiently than normal. In fact, performance is much poorer.

In relation to Topic (4) the change in behaviour in the young man at the party following a number of alcoholic drinks can now be explained. As shown above young people are generally more affected by alcohol than adults. The loss of inhibitions and aggressive behaviour can by typical changes after alcohol consumption.

It is not surprising that when shown a video of his behaviour the previous night that he was quite concerned about his aggressive behaviour. Again as mentioned previously one of the effects of alcohol is that one is unaware of the changes taking place.

As the young man was behaving normally the following day he did not have a hangover. A hangover is a body\'s reaction to being poisoned by alcohol and partly the body\'s withdrawal.(1) A hangover does not usually follow the consumption of small amounts of alcohol.


(1) Drug and Alcohol Services Council, ‘Alcohol\', 1990. Information Sheet Number 8, October 1990

(2) Commonwealth Department of Health, ‘Alcohol\', 1986. The drug offensive, A Federal and state initiative, 1986Outlines of sources consulted

Drug and Alcohol Services Council, ‘Alcohol\', 1990. Information Sheet Number 8, October 1990
This information sheet provides brief general information on alcohol, its dangers, its effects and use. It also lists problems caused by alcohol to some key body organs. This an informative handout and as such does not, and indeed, I believe, should not provide detailed statistics on the matters raised. It is useful that a further information contact point is provided for further information on this drug.

Commonwealth Department of Health, ‘Alcohol\', 1986. The drug offensive, A Federal and state initiative, 1986
This is an information sheet arising from the ‘The Drug Offensive\', which is a Federal-funded program. This provides general information about the source of alcohol, some statistics on the drinking habits of Australians and the interation of this drug with the law and sociaty. The effects both intermidate and long term are addressed in some detail. Considerable detail is provided on the definition and calculation of that perameter. The information sheet concludes with a short ‘Alcohol quiz\'. Whilst some of the statistics provided on the alcohol content of some of the drinks is useful, this detracts from the main message of this newsletter which is about that alcohol is a drug and has dependance and bad