By Rachel Meader and Tess White

Alcohol is another name for the drug ethanol. It is most used as an ingredient in drinks, making them alcoholic beverages. It is very commonly used. It is worked into our culture. Often, you see alcohol in movies, TV shows, concerts, weddings, graduations, parties, and holidays. Maybe you have even tried it. You may have heard referred to as booze, brew, liquor, a cold one, orjuice.

Administering Alcohol

Alcohol is most commonly in drinks. However, it can also be in food- such as jello or bread. Both drinking and eating alcohol can cause you to be drunk, however using alcohol with food is a lower risk. The concentration of alcohol in baked food and is often cooked out while baking, which makes it less effective.

Alcohol and your Medications

Mixing alcohol with certain medications can cause:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • fainting
  • loss of coordination
  • internal bleeding
  • heart problems
  • difficulties in breathing
In addition to these dangers, alcohol can make a medication less effective or even useless. It may make the medication harmful or toxic to your body.

Alcohol and your Brain

Your Brain on Drugs: Alcohol
Source: AsapSCIENCE. "Your Brain on Drugs: Alcohol." YouTube. YouTube, 21 Nov. 2012. Web. 04 Apr. 2016.

Effects of Drinking Alcohol:

  • being drunk, inebriated
  • frontal lobe impaired: decision making, problem solving, purposeful behaviors, consciousness
  • being less aware about the consequences of their actions and the appropriateness of them too
  • aggressive, violent behavior
  • risky behavior- drinking and driving, sexual behavior
  • not recognizing potential dangers
  • higher risk or doing or being a victim of sexual assault

  • trouble with school, law: illegal to drink under the age 21, illegal to give alcohol to someone under 21, illegal to drive while drinking alochol (DUI) -- all can lead to fines or jail time

  • increases risk of liver, mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, cancers

  • Long-term heavy drinking damages:

liver, nervous system, heart, brain, lead to high blood pressure, stomach

problems, sexual problems, osteoporosis, and cancer.

  • Alcohol abuse can also lead to violence, accidents, social isolation, jail time, and problems at work and home
  • alcohol blackout: while drunk, person’s brain doesn’t create or store the memories of the time, next day the person can’t remember what happened

Alcohol Poisoning

~when there is too much alcohol in bloodstream. Your breathing, heart rate, and temperature control all shuts down, if you don't get help it could kill you.

  • Symptoms: confusion, loss of consciousness, vomiting, seizures, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, clammy skin, no gag reflex, slow responses, and low body temp
  • Since you cant regulate body temp, could get hypothermia
  • Since you don't have a gag reflex, could choke on throw up and suffocate

Alcohol Use Disorders

“Are medical conditions that doctors diagnose when someone’s drinking causes them distress or harm”

-binge drinking:

Males: 5 or more drinks in 2 hours

Females: 4 or more drinks in 2 hours

-AUDs cause: “a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking”.


  • Unable to control how much you drink
  • Wanting to but not being able to cut down on the amount you drink
  • Using large amounts of time to either drink, get alcohol, or recover from alcohol
  • Cravings for alcohol- dependency
  • Failing important daily tasks at home or work b/c of alcohol
  • Continuing to drink even if it is causing problems
  • reducing social or work activities to drink
  • Drinking when it is not safe- driving, swimming
  • Developing a tolerance- you need to consume more to feel its effects



  • nausea
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • rapid heart rate
  • tremors
  • problems sleeping
  • hallucinations
  • agitation
  • anxiety
Before withdrawing from Alcohol, it is suggested that you seek medical help. Withdrawal/Detox should be medically managed, takes 2-7 days, and may need medications to help with the symptoms. This is usually done in a hospital or treatment center because it could be dangerous to the person because the effects can be so severe.
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Fig. 7 Road to Recovery (INSTEP)

Recovery and Treatment

  • An estimated 22 million people are in recovery from alcohol abuse
  • receiving some form of addiction help makes you three times more likely to end your addiction then someone who did not
  • 21% of all admissions into rehab programs are alcohol related


  • support systems, counselings
  • interventions
  • outpatient programs
  • rehab
  • medications: sometimes can suppress your craving for alcohol and also help treat the effects of the heavy alcohol use
  • continuous support: you can never fully recover, have to continue to work at it
  • if you have a mental health problem, treatment of that as well
  • having a strong support system throughout recovery
  • there is no single solution that works for everyone
  • find a recovery support group and stay actively involved
  • find an environment that is supportive of your recovery
  • prepare for a successful transition from rehab to home


  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) - self help group of people recovering from alcoholism, 12 step program to achieve total abstinence
  • Women for Sobriety -”self help group for women who want to overcome alcoholism and other addictions”
  • Al-Anon and Alateen- Al-Anon is for people who know and are affected by someone else’s alcoholism, Alateen is for teens who know or are affected by someone else’s alcoholism

Stats and Facts

~On average, 4,358 kids under the age of 21 die every year from alcohol related events

  • 1,580 from car crashes

  • 1,269 from murders

  • 245 from alcohol poisoning, falls, burns, and drowning

  • 492 from suicides

~In 2011, 188,000 kids under 21 went to the ER with alcohol related injuries

~In 2014, 679,000 kids ages 12-17 diagnosed with an AUD

~Use of alcohol also increases risk of developing an AUD later in life

~An estimated 22 million people are in recovery from alcohol abuse

~Out of these 22 million only 5% to 6% will receive the proper treatment

~Receiving some form of addiction help makes you three times more likely to end your addiction then someone who did not

~21% of all admissions into rehab programs are alcohol related

~In publicly funded rehab facilities people who are 20 to 24 years old are the largest group