Drugs and Alcohol

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Now, we know at WICID.tv that no young people drink under the age of 18 years old* because that is illegal in the UK, but we thought we would provide some information *just in case.


Alcohol and both legal and illegal drugs can cause harm to people, from serious side effects, to injury that occurs because of the substance, to death. Both of these substances can raise the risk of serious organ failure, seizures, heart attacks and more.

What is alcohol? Alcohol is: “a colourless volatile flammable liquid which is produced by the natural fermentation of sugars and is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks, and is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel.” (Dictionary definition)

What are drugs? A drug is: “any substance that, when inhaled, injected, smoked, consumed, absorbed via a patch on the skin, or dissolved under the tongue, causes a physiological change in the body.” (Dictionary definition)

The regular, overconsumption of drugs and or alcohol is known as Substance Misuse and there are serious side effects.

Binge Drinking (NHS)

Binge Drinking usually refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time or drinking to get drunk.

UK researchers commonly define binge drinking as consuming more than eight units of alcohol in a single session for men, and more than six units for women.

  • Eight units is just over three pints of 4% strength beer.
  • Six units is just over two large glasses (175ml) of 13% strength wine.

For more examples, use Drinkaware’s unit calculator.

This is not an exact definition for binge drinking that applies to everyone, as tolerance to alcohol can vary from person to person and the speed of drinking in a session can also alter alcohol’s effects.

Drinking too much, too quickly on a single occasion can increase your risk of:

  • accidents resulting in injury, causing death in some cases
  • misjudging risky situations
  • losing self-control, like having unprotected sex

Drinking alcohol in moderation isn’t likely to be harmful; in fact some studies suggest drinking a glass of wine a day has some health benefits. However drinking large quantities of alcohol in one go (binge drinking) or regularly can seriously damage your health. As many as 33,000 people in the UK die from alcohol-related causes every year. The health problems that are associated with drinking heavily include liver damage and disease, strokes, heart disease kidney damage and being involved in accidents.

Under-age drinking (Drinkaware)


Children under 15 shouldn’t drink alcohol at all. There is clear evidence that alcohol can harm the developing brain, bones and hormones

Drinking at age 15 and older can be hazardous to health. Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use puts young people at risk – from injuries, fights, regretted sexual activity, and other substance misuse.

If parents use alcohol responsibly, it’s more likely their children will too. Parents and carers can protect children from misusing alcohol by maintaining a close relationship with their children, setting clear rules about alcohol, and supervising their children’s drinking.

Alcohol and underage drinking – the law

If a person is under 18 and drinking alcohol in public, they can be stopped, fined or arrested by police.

If they’re under 18, it’s against the law:

  • For someone to sell you alcohol
  • To buy or try to buy alcohol
  • For an adult to buy or try to buy alcohol for you
  • To drink alcohol in licensed premises (eg a pub or restaurant)

However if someone is 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult, they can drink (but not buy) beer, wine or cider with a meal.

If they’re 16 or under, they may be able to go to a pub (or premises primarily used to sell alcohol) if they’re accompanied by an adult. However, this isn’t always the case. It can also depend on:

  • The specific conditions for that premises
  • The licensable activities taking place there

It’s not illegal for a child aged five to 16 to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises.

It’s illegal to give alcohol to children under 5.

Consequences of breaking the law

If the police suspect someone under 18 has alcohol in a public place, they have the power to confiscate it. If young people get caught with alcohol three times they could face a social contract, a fine or arrest. Getting a criminal record could affect future job prospects and make it more difficult to travel to countries like the USA.

The police can also confiscate alcohol from someone, no matter what their age, if they believe it has been, or will be drunk by someone under 18 in a public place.

Are you a parent and want to discuss alcohol and drugs with your child/teenager?

The following pages and linked sites will give you detailed information about drugs, alcohol and a range of substances, detailing their effects and whether they are legal or illegal.


We are a voluntary agency offering FREE and CONFIDENTIAL services to users of drugs or alcohol throughout Cwm Taf.


DAN 24/7

In case of emergency please contact DAN 24/7 FREE on: 0800 6 33 55 88


Drinkaware is an independent charity working to reduce alcohol misuse and harm in the UK. We’re here to help people make better choices about drinking.