The effects of alcohol can be felt between ten to twenty minutes after drinking, the effects can vary depending on a number of factors.

Find out exactly how alcohol affects different parts of your body and your brain.


Age and size

We all mature at different rates including liver development. Undeveloped livers work more slowly so alcohol isn't broken down as quickly. A bigger body will also contain more water, which dilutes the alcohol so the effects are smaller.


Stomach contents

Eating food before drinking keeps the alcohol in the stomach where it is absorbed more slowly. This gives the liver more time to break the alcohol down.


Volume and speed

The more you drink, the worse the effects, but also the faster you drink the faster the effects. Drinking faster than the liver can break down alcohol allows it to build up in the bloodstream.


Type of alcohol

Fizzy drinks and stronger drinks such as spirits, are absorbed more quickly. The bubbles in carbonated drinks can cause the valve between the stomach and intestine to open, sending the alcohol straight to the intestines - the part of the body that absorbs alcohol the fastest.

Find out how strong your drink is with our unit calculator.



Regular drinkers build up a tolerance, while first time drinkers will feel the effects immediately.



Females are more affected by alcohol than males, as on average they are smaller with more body fat and less water in their body. As a result the concentration of alcohol is higher and they feel the effects sooner. Females may also find their reaction to drink is affected by hormone level changes which occur during their menstrual cycle.



See Alcohol and mood for more information.


Roll over the image below to discover how alcohol affects different parts of your body.