Alcohol

In the United States, 22.7% of all young adults ages 12-20 have reported drinking alcohol in the past month.

Alcohol is the most used drug in the United States. Alcohol is a depressant that decreases the responses of the central nervous system and creates a loss of coordination, staggering and slurred speech. Alcohol can also cause nerve and liver damage.

OTHER NAMES

Ethyl Alcohol or Ethanol, Beer, Wine, Liquor, Booze, Juice, Brew, Sauce, Coolers

HOW USED

Orally

CATEGORY

Depressant

GENERAL INFORMATION

Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of fruits, vegetables or grains. Alcoholic drinks consist mainly of water and ethanol or ethyl alcohol in varying strengths.  A 12 ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, a 9 ounce wine cooler, and 1 ½ ounces of liquor all contain about the same amount of alcohol.

Alcohol is a depressant that affects the entire central nervous system, triggering a broad range of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes.  It has an affect on every part of the body.  Once it’s consumed it’s immediately carried through the bloodstream to the brain, stomach, liver, kidneys, and muscles.  The rate which it enters the bloodstream is influenced by several factors, including gender, body size, how much the individual has eaten, the amount of alcohol, and how quickly it’s consumed.

The sedative affects on the body include changes in behavior, judgment, perception, and motor skills (coordination).  Alcohol blocks messages from going through the brain and makes it difficult to “act normal.”  People under the influence of alcohol often are involved in dangerous situations or embarrassing behavior created by their lowered inhibitions and changes in their perception and emotions.

Alcohol is a gateway drug—often the first substance that children and teens experiment with—and is the most common drug abused by teens.  This is partly due to it being readily accessible.  Legally teens cannot purchase alcohol themselves and depend on older kids and adults to supply it for them.  Too many people underestimate the consequences involved in underage drinking which can range from physical and property damage to death. 

IMMEDIATE SYMPTOMS

  • Alcohol odor on breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slowed/Delayed reactions
  • Changes in personality
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Impaired coordination (staggering) and perception
  • Lack of control over physical and verbal actions
  • Dilation of blood vessels causing flushed skin

LONG-TERM RISKS/POSSIBLE DAMAGE

  • Impaired learning
  • Blackouts
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Depression
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Colitis
  • Dementia
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart muscle damage
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory damage
  • Increased gastric secretion in the stomach (ulcers)
  • Damage to major organs, especially brain, liver, pancreas, and heart
  • Withdrawal (sweating, tremors, altered perception, psychosis, auditory hallucinations)
  • Cancer of the mouth, tongue, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, rectum, stomach, pancreatic system, or liver

INDICATIONS OF USE

  •  Reduced family contact
  •  Increased spending
  •  Flask
  •  Empty Containers

Learn more about how to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol.