Alcohol is a depressant which slows down vital functions and its effects depend on the amount consumed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in [alcoholic beverages like] beer, wine, and liquor.” Ethanol is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits. It is a drug that is classified as a central nervous system depressant which is absorbed into the bloodstream from the stomach and small intestine.

Alcohol is commonly abused through binge drinking, which means to consume large quantities in a single session. For me, this usually means five or more drinks at one time and for women, it usually means four or more drinks at one time. Newer ways to intake alcohol are also emerging, such as in power and vapor forms.


standard drink:

  • 12 fl oz of regular beer8-9 fl oz of malt liquor
  • 5 fl oz of table wine
  • 3-4 oz of fortified wine
  • 2-3 oz of cordial, liquor, or aperitif
  • 1.5 oz of brandy
  • 1.5 fl oz of 80-proof spirits (hard liquor)

short term effects include*:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Impaired judgment
  • Decreased perception and coordination
  • Blackouts

    *The symptoms may differ among users

long term effects include*:

  • Increased family problems, broken relationships
  • Cancer of the mouth and throat
  • High blood pressure, stroke, and other heart-related diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Permanent damage to the brain

    *The symptoms may differ among users


  • For teens, alcohol can be more harmful since their brains are still developing. Drinking alcohol during this period can lead to lifelong brain function damage.
  • The chances of a driver being killed in a vehicle accident greatly increases when under the influence. Compared to drivers without alcohol, those who are under the influence are at least 11 times more likely to be killed.
  • When mixed with prescription and over-the-counter medications, alcohol can be very dangerous and even deadly. Older adults may be increasingly at risk of the dangers associated with mixing the two substances since aging can lower the body’s tolerance for alcohol.
  • For women that are pregnant, alcohol can potentially damage a fetus at any stage, but is especially serious in the first few months. Drinking alcohol during pregnancy may lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome which is a pattern of physical and mental defects including facial abnormalities and damage to the brain and nervous system.