What is it?
Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented. Fermentation is a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in food into alcohol. Alcohol has different forms and can be used as a cleaner, an antiseptic, or a sedative.
When you drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, it affects your central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls virtually all body functions.
There are three basic types of alcoholic drinks:
What are the consequences of using it and the possible symptoms?
It is illegal to drink alcohol if you are under the age of 21. However, alcohol has serious effects for both adults and underage youth.
Possible consequences of alcohol use include:
- Difficulty remembering things, making school and/or work even harder.
- Impaired judgment and motor functions, putting you at risk of making dangerous decisions which could cause injury to yourself or others, or even death. Can also cause social effects such as unprotected sex, which can lead to pregnancy, HIV, or other STDs.
- Depression or unhappiness. Alcohol is a depressant and will not cheer you up or make you feel better.
Alcohol-related injuries are often caused by binge drinking or drinking and driving.
- Binge drinking (consuming several drinks in a short time period, often with the intent to get drunk) is dangerous and could kill you. Approximately 11 million American youth under the age of 21 drink alcohol. Nearly half of them drink to excess, consuming five or more drinks in a row, one or more times in a two-week period.
- Drinking and driving is never OK, even if you’ve had just one drink. Alcohol impairs your judgment and motor skills, making driving very dangerous. You could hurt—or even kill—yourself or others. Plus, if convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), you could face a year in jail, over $1,000 in fines and fees, 12 points on your license, a suspended license, loss of car insurance, and high car insurance rates.
Signs & Symptoms of Alcohol Use and/or Intoxication:
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. Alcohol blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain, altering your perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of physical coordination
- Inappropriate or violent behavior
- Loss of balance
- Unsteady gait
- Slurred and/or incoherent speech
- Loss of consciousness
- Slowed thinking
- Impaired short-term memory
- Alcohol poisoning/binge drinking can lead to permanent brain damage, coma, and death