Why are drinking games dangerous?
The facts about why drinking games can put your health and your safety in danger.
Don't be fooled into thinking they are harmless fun, drinking games can lead to risky behaviour and alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal, and can have consequences for your long-term health too.
A drinking game is any activity that puts someone else in control of how much alcohol you drink. They’re often played as a way for strangers to bond – like during Freshers’ Week at university.
During drinking games players might have to drink alcohol when they hear a certain word, or as a forfeit when they break the game’s rules.
These rules become harder to follow the more alcohol players drink – which means they make mistakes and end up drinking more.
This encourages players to drink more alcohol than they want, faster than they’d like, which can put them at risk.
Drinking too much alcohol too quickly during a drinking game can lead to alcohol poisoning. This life-threatening condition happens when the body becomes overwhelmed by alcohol.
If you recognise the symptoms of alcohol poisoning – which include confusion, vomiting or seizures – call 999 immediately.
Drinking too much alcohol can also make you vulnerable to situations that might be risky, like walking back to your house alone.
Alcohol makes people less inhibited which could also mean you’re more likely to be involved in an accident and the more you drink, the more likely that may become. Alcohol can also slow down your reactions, upset your balance, and impair your vision and hearing making it difficult to be alert to things that could pose a risk to your safety.
Playing a drinking game as part of a large group of people can make it difficult to tell when people are in trouble.
You’re always safer on a night out if you stick with your friends and regularly check they’re OK.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) low risk drinking guidelines recommend that both men and women are safest not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week.
Getting involved in drinking games can seriously speed up the rate you drink so you’re more likely to exceed the guidelines.
Regularly exceeding the guidelines doesn’t just increase your risk of getting serious conditions like cancer and heart disease. It can also affect your appearance, lead to weight gain and increase anxiety and stress.
 Gan, G., Guevara, A., Marxen, M., Neumann, M., Jünger, E., Kobiella, A., Mennigen, E., Pilhatsch, M., Schwarz, D., Zimmermann, U.S. and Smolka, M.N., 2014. Alcohol-induced impairment of inhibitory control is linked to attenuated brain responses in right fronto-temporal cortex. Biological psychiatry, 76(9), pp.698-707. Available at: biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(14)00015-8/abstract. [Accessed 23 February 2017].