WHY THIS BOOKLET WAS PRODUCED T here is a lot of talk about drugs in the world—on the streets, at school, on the Internet and TV. Some of it istrue, some not.Much of what you hear about drugs actually comes from those sellingthem. Reformed drug dealers have confessed they would have said anythingto get others to buy drugs.But what about alcohol? Is it really a drug? After all, it is legal, it is a part of social life and is evenrecommended by some doctors as healthy in small quantities.In surveys we conducted, alcohol came up at the top of the list of substances youth said they are themost likely to use and they consider as a problem. Because it takes so many young lives (more thanall other drugs combined), it is the substance parents are the most worried about. You need facts to avoid becoming one of the many victims of alcohol and to help your friends stay safe. That is why we have prepared this booklet—for you. Your feedback is important to us, so we look forward to hearing from you. You can visit us on the web at drugfreeworld.org and e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is alcohol? A lcohol is a drug. Alcohol overdose causes even more severe depressant effects (inability to feel pain, toxicity It is classed as a depressant, meaning that where the body vomits the poison, and finally it slows down vital functions—resulting in unconsciousness or, worse, coma or death fromslurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed severe toxic overdose). These reactions depend onperceptions and an inability to react quickly. how much is consumed and how quickly.As for how it affects the mind, it is best There are different kinds of alcohol. Ethyl alcoholunderstood as a drug that reduces a person’s (ethanol), the only alcohol used in beverages, isability to think rationally and distorts his or her produced by the fermentation of grains and fruits.judgment. Fermenting is a chemical process whereby yeastAlthough classified as a depressant, the amount acts upon certain ingredients in the food, creatingof alcohol consumed determines the type of effect. alcohol.Most people drink for the stimulant effect, suchas a beer or glass of wine taken to “loosen up.”But if a person consumes more than thebody can handle, they then experiencealcohol’s depressant effect. Theystart to feel “stupid” or losecoordination and control.
Alcohol content F ermented drinks, Beer 2–6% alcohol such as beer and wine, contain from 2% alcohol Cider 4–8% alcohol to 20% alcohol. Distilled Wine 8–20% alcohol drinks, or liquor, contain from 40% to 50% or more Tequila 40% alcohol alcohol. The usual alcohol Rum 40% or more alcohol content for each is: Brandy 40% or more alcohol Gin 40–47% alcohol Whiskey 40–50% alcohol Vodka 40–50% alcohol Liqueurs 15–60% alcohol4
Drinking and drivingl In the United States in 2007, the death a vehicle accident is at least 11 timestoll from teenage drunk-driving accidents that of drivers without alcohol in theirwas 1,393—nearly four fatalities every system.day of the year. For most people, these are onlyl Motor vehicle accidents are the leading statistics—shocking, perhaps, butcause of death among teenagers in the only statistics. But for the familiesUS and are responsible for more than one and friends of those who die as ain three deaths of American teenagers. result of teenage drinking and Of the teen drivers killed on driving, each number represents the road in 2006, 31% a tragic loss. had been drinking, Alcohol distorts a person’s perceptions according to the and judgment. People under the National Highway influence of alcohol readily admit their Traffic Safety reaction time is slower than when not Administration. drinking, and they take many chances l The risk of a driver they would never take when sober. under the influence of Too often those chances are fatal. alcohol being killed in 5
Understanding how Young peoplealcohol affects the body Whats the dif fe s u s adults ver rence?A lcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream via small blood vessels in the walls of the stomach and small A young intestine. Within minutes of drinking alcohol, it travels person’s with alco body can hol the sa not copefrom the stomach to the brain, where it quickly produces its way an a meeffects, slowing the action of nerve cells. dult’s ca n. DrinkingApproximately 20% of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach. is more harmfulMost of the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. to teens adults be than cause thAlcohol is also carried by the bloodstream to the liver, which eliminates brains are eir still devethe alcohol from the blood through a process called “metabolizing,” througho loping ut adole well into scence awhere it is converted to a non‑toxic substance. The liver can young ad nd Drinking ulthood.only metabolize a certain amount at a time, leaving the excess during th period ca is criticalcirculating throughout the body. Thus the intensity of the effect n lead to growth in brain fu lifelong don the body is directly related to the amount consumed. nction, p amage relates to articularl memory y as it (ability to , motor skWhen the amount of alcohol in the blood exceeds a certain move) a ills nd coordlevel, the respiratory (breathing) system slows down Accordin ination. g to resemarkedly, and can cause a coma or death, because who beg arch, you in drinkin ng peopleoxygen no longer reaches the brain. 4 times m g before ore likely age 15 a depende to develo re nce than p alcoho those wh l6 drinking at age 2 1. o begin
F or some teens, like Samantha, drinking seems to be a solution to problems they don’t want to face. “When I was 13, friends would make fun of me if I didn’t have a drink. I just gave in because it was easier to join the crowd. I was really unhappy and just drank to escape my life. “I went out less and less so started losing friends and the more lonely I got, the more I drank.“I was violent and out of control. I never knew what I was doing. I wasripping my family apart.” Kicked out of her home at age 16, she washomeless and started begging for money to buy drinks. After years ofabuse, doctors told her there was irreparable harm to her health. “. . . I was only 16 but my liver was badly damaged and I was close to killing myself from everything I was drinking.” — Samantha
What is binge drinking?B inge drinking is the practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single session, usually defined as five or moredrinks at one time for a man, or four or moredrinks at one time for a woman.About 90% of the alcohol consumedby youth under the age of21 in the United States Iis in the form of binge binge drink every chance I get and todrinks. be honest I am disgusted with myself, but I cannot control my desire to do it. . . . If I drink too much or drink certain drinks, I get breathless and go blotchy all over my body, but I continue to drink until I am so exhausted I fall asleep. . . . I am not sure that I am strong enough to quit my stupidity.” — Allen
T his past year I have gone to work drunk, blacked out in clubs and bars and can’t remember getting home. Ashamedly I slept with someone and couldn’t even remember the person coming home withB y the time I was in my me until we bumped into mid 20s I was locked in each other the next day. to drinking. “I’ve destroyed two“A lot of my first concerns were relationships because about drinking, and everything else I hurt them so came second. much through my “I started to realize that when I drinking, but I put didn’t have a drink I had a sense drinking first. of panic and I would start shaking. “My family are “If I had to go without a drink, so hurt that I would go through shakes their daughter and sweats. I couldn’t go for is killing herself more than a few hours without for apparently a drink.” — Paul no reason.” — Jamie
What is alcoholism or alcohol dependence? Alcohol dependence (alcoholism) consists of four symptoms: l Craving: a strong need, or hours after the last drink. The delirium compulsion, to drink. tremens (D.T.’s) begins 3 to 4 days later where the person becomes extremely l Loss of control: the inability to agitated, shakes, hallucinates and loses limit one’s drinking on any given touch with reality. occasion. l Tolerance: The need to drink greater l Physical dependence: amounts of alcohol in order to get high. withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and An increasingly heavy drinker often anxiety, occur when alcohol use says he could stop whenever he is stopped after a period of heavy chooses—he just never “chooses” drinking. to do so. Alcoholism is not a destination, but a progression, Serious dependence can lead to a long road of deterioration in life‑threatening withdrawal symptoms which life continuously worsens. including convulsions, starting 8 to 1210
W hen I went to quit drinking, I realized that alcohol had taken to my body in such a way that I couldn’t stop. I would shake like I was going to break, I would start to sweat, I couldn’t think until I had another drink. I couldn’tfunction without it.“I spent the next 8 years in and out of detox and hospitals, trying to figure outwhat happened to me, how was it possible I couldn’t quit. It was the worst andlongest nightmare.” — Jan
International statisticsA lcohol kills more teenagers l Of the 3.9 million Americans than all other drugs combined. who received treatment for It is a factor in the three a substance abuse problemleading causes of death among in 2005, 2.5 million of15- to 24‑year‑olds: accidents, them were treated forhomicides and suicides. alcohol use.l Youth who drink are 7.5 times l Alcohol‑related trafficmore likely to use other illegal deaths in the US weredrugs and 50 times more likely 12,998 in 2007. This is moreto use cocaine than young people than three times as manywho never drink. One survey found American soldiers who diedthat 32% of the heavy drinkers in combat in the first sixover 12 were also illegal drug users. years of the Iraq war.l In 2005, 6.6% of the US l There are 1.4 millionpopulation aged 12 or older, or drunk driving arrests in16 million people, reported heavy the US every year.drinking (binge drinking on at leastfive days of the past 30 days).12
40% of violent crimes occur under the 39% of all traffic influence of deaths involved alcohol. alcohol in 2005. l A US Department This amounts of Justice study found to an annual that as many as 40% of increase of 7% violent crimes occur under from the previous year. the influence of alcohol. l According to one study, l In 2005–2006, there were of the 490 million people in 187,640 National Health the European Union, more System alcohol‑related than 23 million are dependenthospital admissions in on alcohol.England. l In Europe, alcohol contributesl There were 6,570 deaths in to nearly one in ten of all casesEngland in 2005 from causes of illness and premature deathsdirectly linked to alcohol use. In each year. 2006, alcohol‑related deaths in England rose to 8,758. 13
Short‑term effects Depending l Headaches l Blackouts (memory on how much is taken and l Breathing difficulties lapses, where the drinker the physical condition of the cannot remember events l Distorted vision and individual, alcohol that occurred while under hearing can cause: the influence) l Impaired judgment l Slurred speech l Decreased perception l Drowsiness and coordination l Vomiting l Unconsciousness l Diarrhea l Anemia l Upset stomach (loss of red blood cells) l Coma14
Binge dri Long‑term effects nking and continued : alcohol use in large amounts are associated with many health problems, includingl Unintentional injuries such as car crash, l Liver disease falls, burns, drowning l Nerve damagel Intentional injuries such as firearm l Sexual problems injuries, sexual assault, domestic l Permanent damage to the brain violence l Vitamin B1 deficiency, which can lead tol Increased on‑the‑job injuries and loss a disorder characterized by amnesia, of productivity apathy and disorientationl Increased family problems, broken l Ulcers relationships l Gastritis (inflammation ofl Alcohol poisoning stomach walls)l High blood pressure, stroke, and other l Malnutrition heart‑related diseases l Cancer of the mouth and throat
M y addiction built steadily and, before I realized it, I had become a morning aswell as an afternoon drinker. The youngest victims W“I decided to stop drinking. I lay awake hen consumed by pregnant mothers,most of that night, and by noon the alcohol enters the bloodstream, passesnext day every bone in my body ached. through the placenta and enters the fetusIn a blind panic, I nervously poured a (unborn child).glass full of gin, my hands shaking so Alcohol can damage a fetus at any stageviolently that I spilled half the bottle. of pregnancy, but is most serious in the As I gulped it down, I could feel the first few months. There is agony gradually lessening. a risk of alcohol‑related Then I finally knew the birth defects including terrible truth: I was growth deficiencies, facial hooked. I couldn’t abnormalities, and damage to quit.” — Faye the brain and nervous system.
A trail of tragedy A lcohol has claimed the lives of many gifted Brian Connolly (1945–1997): artists, musicians and writers over the Scottish rock vocalist and lead past decades. These are just a few: singer for Sweet. His drinking problem caused him to leave John Bonham (1948–1980): Excessive the band in 1978; he reunited alcohol led to the tragic death of Led Zeppelin years later but his drinking had drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham, best known damaged his health and he diedfor his drum solo “Moby Dick.” He was found of liver failure in 1997.dead of asphyxiation from vomit after a nightof heavy drinking, on his way to rehearsals for Oliver Reed (1938–1999):an upcoming tour. British actor known for his roles in Oliver!, Women in Love, The ThreeSteve Clark (1960–1991): Guitarist for Def Musketeers and Gladiator. He diedLeppard. A heavy drinker, he died in his London from a sudden heart attack duringhome of a lethal combination of alcohol and drugs. a break from filming Gladiator.Micheal Clarke (1946–1993): American musician, He was heavily intoxicated afterdrummer for The Byrds. He died of liver failure 3 bottles of rum, 8 bottles of beer after three decades of heavy alcohol and numerous doubles of whiskey. consumption.
Alcohol: F ermented grain, fruit juice and honey have been used to make alcohol (ethyl alcohol or ethanol) for thousands of years. Fermented beverages existed in early Egyptian civilization, and there is evidence of an early alcoholic drink in China around 7000 B.C. In India, an alcoholic beverage called sura, distilled from rice, was in use between 3000 and 2000 B.C. The Babylonians worshiped a wine goddess as early as 2700 B.C. In Greece, one of the first alcoholic beverages to gain popularity was mead, a fermented drink made from honey and water. Greek literature is full of warnings against excessive drinking. Several Native American civilizations developed alcoholic beverages in pre‑Columbian* times. A variety of fermented beverages from the Andes region of South America Fermented beverages * pre‑Columbian: before the arrival in in early Egyptian America of Christopher Columbus18 civilization in 1492.
A Short Historywere created from corn, grapes or apples, In 1920 the US passed a law prohibitingcalled “chicha.” the manufacture, sale, import and export of intoxicating liquors. The illegal alcohol tradeIn the 16th century, alcohol (called “spirits”) boomed and by 1933, the prohibition ofwas used largely for medicinal purposes. At alcohol was cancelled.the beginning of the 18th century, the Britishparliament passed a law encouraging the use of Today, an estimated 15 milliongrain for distilling spirits. Cheap spirits flooded Americans suffer from alcoholismthe market and reached a peak in the mid‑18th and 40% of all car accidentcentury. In Britain, gin consumption reached deaths in the US involve18 million gallons and alcoholism became alcohol.widespread.The 19th century brought a change in attitudesand the temperance movement began promotingthe moderate use of alcohol—which ultimatelybecame a push for total prohibition.
The Truth About DrugsD rugs are essentially poisons. The amount taken determines the effect. Drugs block off all sensations, the desirable ones with the unwanted. So, while providing short‑term help in the relief of pain, they also wipe out abilityA small amount acts as a stimulant (speeds you and alertness and muddy one’s thinking.up). A greater amount acts as a sedative (slowsyou down). An even larger amount poisons and Medicines are drugs that are intended to speedcan kill. up or slow down or change something about the way your body is working, to try to make it workThis is true of any drug. Only the amount needed better. Sometimes they are necessary. But theyto achieve the effect differs. are still drugs: they act as stimulants or sedatives,But many drugs have another liability: they and too much can kill you. So if you do not usedirectly affect the mind. They can distort the user’s medicines as they are supposed to be used, theyperception of what is happening around him or can be as dangerous as illegal drugs.her. As a result, the person’s actions may be odd,irrational, inappropriate and even destructive.20
The real answer is to getthe facts and not to takedrugs in the first place.
why do people take drugs? People take drugs because they want to They think drugs are a solution. But change something in their lives. eventually, the drugs become the problem. Here are some of the reasons young people have given for taking drugs: Difficult as it may be to face one’s problems, the consequences of drug use • To fit in are always worse than the problem one • To escape or relax is trying to solve with them. The real answer is to get the facts and not to take • To relieve boredom drugs in the first place. • To seem grown up • To rebel • To experiment22
“Alcohol in Europe: A Public Millions of copies of booklets such asREFERENCES Health Perspective,” Institute of this have been distributed to people“Facts About Alcohol,” U.S. Alcohol Studies (UK)Substance Abuse and Mental around the world in 22 languages. As “Alcohol Use Disorders: AlcoholHealth Services Administration Liver Diseases and Alcohol new drugs appear on the streets and more(SAMHSA) Dependency,” Warren Kaplan, information about their effects becomesNational Institute on Alcohol Ph.D., JD, MPH, 7 Oct 2004Abuse and Alcoholism known, existing booklets are updated and “Alcohol and the Brain,”“Alcohol and Underage University of Washington new ones created.Drinking,” School of Public U.S. Department of Health &Health at Johns Hopkins Human Services, Office of the The booklets are published by theUniversity Surgeon General Foundation for a Drug‑Free World, a“Results from the 2005 NationalSurvey on Drug Use and Health: Encyclopedia Britannica nonprofit public benefit organizationNational Findings,” SAMHSA “Alcohol Intoxification,” headquartered in Los Angeles, California. www.emedicinehealth.com“2007 Traffic Safety AnnualAssessment—Alcohol‑Impaired “Alcohol Alert,” U.S. National The Foundation provides educationalDriving Fatalities,” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and materials, advice and coordination for itsHighway Traffic Safety Alcoholism, April 2006Administration, August 2008 international drug prevention network. Mothers Against Drunk Driving“Alcohol and Crime,” U.S. “Teen Drivers: Fact Sheet,” It works with youth, parents, educators,Department of Justice Bureauof Justice Statistics Centers for Disease Control volunteer organizations and government PHOTO CREDITS: agencies—anyone with an interest in“Alcohol‑related assault: findings Pages 3, 4, 7, 19: Stockxpert; Pagefrom the British Crime Survey,” 5 (car wreck): Bigstockphoto; helping people lead lives free from drugUK Home Office Online Report Page 9 (feet): Nightwatching; abuse. Page 14 (left): Stockxpert, (right)“Statistics on Alcohol: England, iStockphoto; Page 17 (weeping2007,” National Health Service angel): Lisa Grissinger; Page 18(UK) (Goddess Siduri): GoddessGift. 23