Alcohol

Street Names:

"Booze"

Chemical Composition:

Ethyl alcohol (ethanol) is the active ingredient in alcoholic drinks. Take any alcoholic beverage and remove the ingredients that give it taste and color, and you have ethyl alcohol. Remove the water and you have ether. Ether dulls the senses and puts the brain to sleep. Alcohol is a drug.

Characteristics:

Alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and sent into the bloodstream and throughout the body. Alcohol slows down all body functions. Its effects are similar to those of a general anesthetic.

The brain operates on electrical impulse and chemical reaction. Alcohol reduces the oxygen supply to cells. The change in moods, coordination, judgment and behavior is caused by a change in brain cell chemistry. Alcohol is an addictive drug. Withdrawal from alcohol can produce anxiety, tremors, hallucinations and convulsions.

Methods of Use:

Alcohol is consumed by drinking. "Binge drinking" is consuming four or five drinks at one sitting. Four drinks for women and five drinks for men.

"We started to piece together the story. His friend had acquired the beer from someone of legal age. They went to a girl's house to drink it. The girl was my son's girlfriend. The mother of the girl was home and allowed a group of teens to drink at her house that evening in their pool. They each had six beers at the house and came home at midnight. Unknown to us, they continued to drink in our house. My son got a call from his girlfriend and he sneaked out of the house and returned there at about 1:30 A.M. The beer ran out. The mother broke out a bottle of orange vodka to keep the party alive." A Mom's Story (Click for complete story.)

Risks:

People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin drinking at age 24. A teen can become an alcoholic within months of taking their first drink because their bodies are not matured.

"The first time I was drunk, I was fifteen. The next year, sixteen years old, I started smoking pot. Away at college and on my own, I quickly realized and began to take advantage of my new social freedom. I got a fake ID and started going to bars and parties four or five nights a week. Now, when I went out, I didn't just have a few beers, come home and pass out. Instead, I would wake up in the morning puking and would have no clue where I was or where I had been." Full of Regrets at Twenty-nine (Click for complete story.)

Alcohol use can damage the brain, liver, pancreas, heart, muscles and stomach. Pregnant women who drink during pregnancy can deliver infants with fetal alcohol syndrome, which can cause possible mental retardation and physical abnormalities.

Heavy and chronic drinking can decrease the functioning of the testes and ovaries causing hormonal deficiencies, sexual dysfunction and infertility. It can also cause a higher frequency of menstrual irregularities in females.

Alcohol use impairs judgment, coordination, and can increase the incidence of risky sexual behavior, vulnerability to coercive sexual activity, aggressive acts, and domestic violence. Alcohol is a gateway drug.

"At 4:30 A.M. the phone woke us up; my husband answered it. It was the hospital. They informed him that our sixteen-year-old son had been in an auto accident and was in the emergency room. We thought he was in his room. Less than half a mile from our house we came upon the crash site. We saw our son's truck, barely recognizable ... We pulled over next to the other vehicle, which was upside down, smoldering and being worked on by fire fighters. There was a blanket covering the driver's side. We asked about the other driver, and the officer told us that he was dead. We later found out that our son's blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.18, over two times the legal limit."A Mom's Story (Click for complete story.)

Sources:

"Alcohol," Drug Resource
Partnership for a Drug-Free Kids
www.drugfree.org/drug-guide/alcohol/

"America's Biggest Drug Problem Begins With
Underage Drinking "
Committees of Correspondence, Inc.
24 Adams St.
Danvers, MA 01923-2718

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
News release, 1/14/98
"Alcohol Alert," No. 26, 11/95
"Eighth Special Report," op. cit., p.179