Josh Allen, of Ilam School, asks :-

Why does alcohol make you drunk?

Rob Brandram-Adams, a medical officer with the Mental Health Division of Healthlink South's Queen Mary Centre at Hanmer Springs, responded.

Alcohol is a sedative-hypnotic (sleep producing) drug. Alcohol does not make you drunk; you make you drunk by drinking too much, too quickly. Alcohol dissolves in water and is effective in putting the brain to sleep. Being drunk is the result of having a sleepy brain. The most complicated actions of the brain are put to sleep first: e.g. thinking, judgement, feelings (including worries).

When these functions are sleepy you may be silly, loud, sad or behave oddly. Next with continued drinking the control of body muscles and fine movement is upset, e.g. slurred speech, unsteady walk, difficulty driving safely.

After this (if more alcohol reaches your brain) you may put your memory to sleep (this is called a blackout). More alcohol still and the brain is asleep - this is a drunken sleep.

Further effects of alcohol may make you more and more deeply asleep. Automatic functions may be upset - control of going to the toilet may be lost. Control of breathing and heart beat goes. The body may die at this point.

So drinking alcohol makes you drunk by getting into your body, travelling to your brain cells and putting them to sleep.