The Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is a drug. It affects the way you feel and it affects all parts of your body.
  • Brain: Alcohol is a "downer," It directly affects the brain cells. Unclear thinking, staggering and slurred speech may result. Large amounts of alcohol may cause unconsciousness or death.
  • Eyes: Alcohol causes blurred vision.
  • Heart: Alcohol can increase the workload of the heart. Irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure can result.
  • Liver: Alcohol can poison the liver. Prolonged use causes extensive damage and failure.
  • Stomach/Pancreas: Alcohol irritates the digestive system. Vomiting and ulcers may result.
  • Kidneys: Alcohol can stop the kidneys from maintaining a proper balance of body fluids and minerals.
  • Veins/Arteries: Alcohol widens blood vessels causing headaches and loss of body heat.
  • Blood: Alcohol reduces your body's ability to produce blood cells resulting in anemia and/or infections.
  • Muscles: Alcohol can cause muscle weakness, including the heart muscle.

Myths About Drinking

  • Everybody drinks. One third of American adults don't drink at all and many Americans are drinking less and less. Per capita alcohol consumption has been steadily declining.
  • When things go wrong, having a drink will help. Drinking when things go wrong puts you at higher risk for developing alcoholism.
  • Drinking is the best way to party or celebrate. Alcohol on be one element of an adult party or celebration, but when alcohol becomes the most important element and socializing with friends is difficult without it serious problems can occur.
  • Young people drink to have a good time. A recent national survey of junior and senior high school students tells a much different story. More than 30% of teenagers drink alone; boredom and emotional distress are among the masons why they say they drink.
  • Alcohol is less dangerous than other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine or LSD. Car crashes, suicides, homicides and drowning am all associated with alcohol use and make it the number one drug problem for young people. In fact, the most likely cause of death for a 16-year old is alcohol-related.
  • If I let my child drink at home, he or she will be less likely to get into trouble with alcohol outside the home. Research shows teenagers whose parents allow them to drink at home are more likely to drink outside the home and to use other drugs. They also have a much greater chance of developing a serious problem.
  • So long as my child doesn't drive, it's okay for him or her to drink. Teens don't drink the same way adults do. Many teens engage in 'binge drinking" and down their drinks quickly so that they will get drunk. When they are drunk they are more likely to drink and drive, or to ride with another teen who has been drinking.
  • A mixed drink contains more alcohol than beer, wine or wine coolers. A 12 ounce on of beer, a 5 ounce glass of table wine and a standard mixed drink with 1.5 ounce of 80 proof alcohol all contain the same amount of alcohol. A 12 ounce bottle of wine cooler contains as much or more alcohol than the rest.
  • Coffee or a cold shower will sober you up if you're drunk. Only time can make you sober. It takes approximately two hours for each ounce of alcohol to work its way out of your bloodstream.

Facts About Alcohol

  • Teenagers are more affected by alcohol than adults just as girls are more affected than boys because of differences in their bodies.
  • Sexually active teenagers who drink heavily are at greater risk for HIV infection because they are less likely to use condoms.
  • Many college students who commit violent crimes or who are the victims of violent crimes - including date rape, assault and robbery-have been drinking prior to the crime.
  • A third of all high school seniors say that they drink more than five drinks in a row in one sitting at least twice a month.
  • Teenagers drink 35% of all wine coolers because they like their fruity, non-alcoholic taste and because they believe that wine coolers don't contain much alcohol; overall, they drink more beer because it's cheap and easy to get.
  • Two-thirds of teenagers who drink - including those as young as 12 or 13 - say they are able to buy their own alcoholic beverages.
  • The majority of teenagers who use illegal drugs first use alcohol and those who begin using alcohol at an early age have a higher tendency to be current users of alcohol, tobacco or marijuana than do those who start drinking when they are older.