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By Keith W Munday

If alcohol came on to the market as a new drug, it would probably be put on prescription. It can make people feel happy, relaxed and sociable with a lessening of their inhibitions; but it is also a depressant, acting on the brain and central nervous system, affecting judgement, self- control and co-ordination.


For reference purposes, alcohol is measured as follows:
A half-pint of beer or lager = 1 Unit.
A small glass of wine = 1 Unit.
A measure of spirits = 1 Unit.

The medical authorities suggest that men should not drink more than 3 or 4 Units per day and women not more than 2 or 3 per day. In 1996 the average intake was about 16 Units weekly. Men's drinking remains fairly stable, but women's drinking is increasing. In that year there were 43,000 cases of drunkenness offences.

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