Fast Facts for Teens:

FAST FACTS - Alcohol
AKA: booze, beer, wine, liquor

What is it?

Alcohol is a depressant that comes from organic sources including grapes,
grains and berries. These ferment or are distilled into a liquid.

Alcohol affects the central nervous system and brain. It can make users
loosen up, relax, and feel more comfortable or can make them more
aggressive. Unfortunately, it also lowers their inhibitions, which can set
them up for dangerous or embarrassing behavior. Alcohol is a drug and is
only legal if you're 21 or older.

Who uses it?

Alcohol is the most-used drug in the country. Among teens, it is the number
one abused substance. Over 50 percent of seniors in high school reported
drinking in the past month. Monitoring the Future, 1975-1999

What does it do?

Alcohol can make you feel silly, uninhibited and buzzed. You may feel more
confident, comfortable or relaxed, and then as the alcohol leaves your
system you feel drowsy and sleepy. This can lead to drinking more alcohol to
keep your "buzz" going.

The problem is alcohol messes with your ability to control your muscles,
mind, and mouth. It blocks the messages going through your brain, and
changes your perceptions and emotions. It affects your eyesight, hearing,
coordination and reactions, making it difficult to act normally. A number of
people also experience nasty hangovers afterwards, which can result from
your body being dehydrated by the alcohol. Alcohol also has a high calorie content.

How does alcohol work?

Alcohol affects every part of the body--it is carried through the
bloodstream to the brain, stomach, internal organs, liver, kidneys,
muscles--everywhere. It is absorbed very quickly (as short as 5-10 minutes)
and can stay in the body for several hours.

Overdose occurs among younger drinkers because they try to drink too much,
too fast. This can result in alcohol poisoning. When alcohol poisoning
occurs, the person may pass out and can end up choking on their vomit.

Alcohol can also decrease guys' sperm count and increase their chance of
impotence. In the long term, alcohol use can lead to vitamin deficiencies,
stomach problems, major liver damage, heart problems, kidney damage, and
brain problems such as memory loss.

What about alcohol and sex?

Because it gets in the way of your ability to make smart decisions, you're
much more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior when you're
drunk-and less likely to worry about using protection or getting pregnant.

What about alcohol and driving?

Eight young people a day die in alcohol-related crashes. Alcohol makes it
difficult to drive a car with any intelligence or coordination at all. Do
not drink and drive. MADD

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a disease, kind of like diabetes or high blood pressure. And
although many people see it in a very negative light, it is not something to
be ashamed of. It is a treatable disease, and thousands of teens are finding
help for it through Alcoholics Anonymous.

How do i know if I have a drinking problem?

The signs of a serious problem include:
Being unable to control your matter what you plan on doing,
you always end up drinking a lot.
Using alcohol to escape your day-to-day reality.
Using alcohol to change your personality--either into a total party animal
or anything else that's different from the normal you.
Being able to drink way more than anyone you know, or having a high tolerance.
Having blackouts, or periods where you don't remember what happened.
Letting alcohol get in the way of your schoolwork, or your friendships or family relationships.

Quick Facts

Know the law. Alcohol is illegal to buy or possess if you are under 21.
Get the facts right. One 12-ounce beer has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce
shot of whiskey or a 5-ounce glass of wine. And it affects each person
differently. For instance, women's bodies react more quickly to alcohol.

Stay informed. Wine coolers look like juice sparklers but they have just as
much alcohol as a 12-ounce beer. One glass of clear malt can give a teenager
a .02 on a Breathalyzer test. In some states, that amount is enough for
anyone under the age of 21 to lose his/her driver's license and be subject
to a fine.

Be aware of the risks. Drinking increases the risk of injury. Car crashes,
falls, burns, drowning, and other dangerous behaviors are all linked to
alcohol and other drug use. When you're not thinking straight, you're more
likely to get pulled into bad situations.

Keep your edge. Alcohol can ruin your looks, give you bad breath, and make
you gain weight.

Play it safe. Drinking can lead to intoxication and even death from alcohol

Do the smart thing. Drinking puts your health, education, family ties, and
social life at risk.

Be a real friend. If you know someone with a drinking problem, be part of
the solution. Urge your friend to get help.

Remain alert. Stay clear on claims that alcohol means glamour and adventure.
Stay clear on what's real and what's illusion.

Sweep away the myths. Having a designated driver is no excuse to drink.
Drinking only at home or sticking only to beer does not make drinking any

Back to Main Page