About Alcohol

Alcohol is any beverage containing a powerful drug called ethonal. Ethonol can be made synthetically or produced naturally by fermentation of fruits, vegetables or grains. Alcohol is a depressant, and after delivering a short 'buzz' it begins to slow down the central nervous system. Breathing, thinking, judgment and your senses are impaired within minutes. Alcohol is legal if you are 21 or older, however it is still dangerous and can be easily abused. It is easy to become dependent on alcohol and hard to quit. Use or possession of alcohol by anyone under 21 is illegal. Despite the laws alcohol is very common in teens though, according to the the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey over 80% of teens have tried at least one alcoholic beverage in their lifetime. Half of all teen related deaths are a result of alcohol use, most of them are auto accidents. Nearly 5 million problem drinkers in the U.S. are 14 to 17.

There is a myth that beer and wine are better for you than a shot, but a beer, a glass of wine and a shot of liquor all have about the same amount of alcohol.

The short-term effects of drinking include:

  • distorted vision, hearing, and coordination
  • altered perceptions and emotions
  • impaired judgment, which can lead to accidents, injury or death. Also other risky behaviors like unsafe sex and drug use
  • bad breath
  • hangovers, headache stomachache and vomiting
  • widens blood vessels, so heat escapes the body faster. This can lead to hypothermia.
  • heart rate and blood pressure increase, risking heart attack or stroke.
  • blackouts and short term memory loss

The long-term effects include:

  • cirrhosis and cancer of the liver
  • loss of appetite/malnutrition
  • serious vitamin deficiencies
  • stomach ailments
  • heart and central nervous system, and brain damage
  • memory loss/brain damage
  • high risk for overdosing
To the left is a healthy human liver, to the right is a human liver that has been damaged by alcohol. The liver is one of the most important organs in the body and preforms many important functions in the body. The liver can regenerate itself, but after even minimal damage it cannot. Then it just continues to get worse and worse until it finely shuts down.

Driving while intoxicated isn't very smart either. Each day in the U.S. 11 teens are killed, and over 350 are injured in alcohol related auto accidents. Studies show that after midnight 80% of all vehicles on the road are intoxicated, this is a dangerous time to drive even if you are sober. Driving while intoxicated, or DWI is illegal and if you are caught the consequences are great. Your will probably loose your license on the spot, you will be arrested and could go to jail. You will have to pay fines, and bail if they put you in jail. Your insurance rates will go up and you may have a lawsuit on your hands. If you do decide to drink make sure you have a designated driver, or somebody sober to drive you home.

Here is a site with a video about alcohol myths [[http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/CollegeStudents/alcoholMyths.aspx#|Alcohol Myths]]

There are many groups that can help you quit, check for support groups in your area like AA Here is their site. AA

I got most of my information from my book, Glencoe Health. I also used www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov, the AA site and Kidshealth.org