You’ve probably heard or seen something about alcohol awareness and the effects it can have on your body. Perhaps you’ve seen adults or kids at school drinking, or have seen people drinking in movies or television shows. So what’s the real truth behind alcohol? Let’s take a look at what it is and how it affects us.
Question: What Is Alcohol?
Answer: Alcohol is a liquid made from fermented grains, like barley or hops. Fruits, like grapes, may also be included. The process of fermentation introduces yeast to help convert and break down these ingredients. We also refer to drinks as an alcoholic when they are made using this process. Alcoholic drinks include beer, wine, whiskey, liqueurs, and many others. We can tell when a bottled drink contains alcohol because it will have a label indicating the percentage of alcohol.
Question: What Are Some Facts About Alcohol?
Answer: Did you know that it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to drink alcohol? Underage drinking is a big problem and can have fatal consequences if people choose to drink and drive or drink more than their body can process. When people start drinking at a young age, they may be more likely to have alcohol-related problems as they get older, including alcohol addiction or alcoholism. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death among teens in the United States.
Question: How Does Alcohol Affect the Body?
Answer: Alcohol has immediate and long-term effects on our brains and bodies. It is a type of drug and impacts the nervous system. Soon after drinking, alcohol begins to impair the brain and most people tend to feel sleepy, foggy and disoriented. They cannot think properly and they have difficulty walking, talking and seeing.
Over a long period of time, alcohol can damage the liver, the nervous system, the reproductive system and the brain. It increases the risk of high blood pressure, depression, and diabetes. Because alcohol contains a lot of carbohydrates, it also causes people to gain weight.
Question: Why Do People Drink?
Answer: Many kids and teens start drinking because they are curious about alcohol or because their friends pressure them to try it. Sometimes, they drink only because other people are drinking and they want to fit in. Many think that it makes them look older or cooler; this isn’t true. Others might turn to alcohol or drugs because they experience depression or cannot cope with their emotions in an alternative way. Many people feel that alcohol is “an escape.” In reality, it can make problems even bigger.
Adults who drink socially do so to help them relax or because they enjoy the taste of the drink. Finally, many people simply drink because they need to; they may have an addiction and cannot bring themselves to stop.
Question: Why Shouldn’t I Drink?
Answer: A good reason to avoid drinking is that it is illegal and there may be very serious legal consequences if you are under 21! Besides this, alcohol is bad for your health and your developing brain.
Drinking even a little can lead to addiction, especially if there is a genetic history of alcoholism in the family. Quite often when people, especially kids, drink, they end up doing things that are extremely embarrassing or dangerous; they lose control of themselves and make poor decisions. Drinking a lot can cause people to vomit. In some cases, they might even need to be rushed to the hospital to have their stomachs pumped if they have alcohol poisoning. The morning after drinking can result in a hangover: a strong headache, nausea and extreme sensitivity to sound and light. It’s a very unpleasant experience!
Question: What Should I Do if Someone Asks Me to Drink?
Answer: Saying no to peer pressure or a dare is difficult. Many kids use an excuse so that they can turn down alcohol without looking uncool. Other kids may be straightforward and tell others that they do not want to drink. If they ask why, you could say that you don’t like it, that you don’t want to or that you avoid it for health reasons.
Remember that your true friends will respect your decision. For example, would you force someone to eat live bugs if you both know that it is bad for you? People who continue to pressure you are showing that they don’t care about your health or about the dangerous consequences.
Question: What Should I Do if I Know Another Kid Who Drinks?
Answer: If you cannot safely get out of a negative situation involving alcohol, call an adult to help. You can also call the police department. Voice your opinion and talk to your friend about drinking to show them that it is not a wise decision. Talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent or a guidance counselor and voice any concerns.
Question: Where Can I Learn More About Alcohol?
Answer: One way to learn about alcohol is to discuss it with your parents or a teacher. There are also plenty of online resources created for kids to teach them about alcohol, addiction, and related health effects. Have a look at these resources to get started.
- Drinking and Alcoholism – Read about why people drink and how badly it can affect them.
- The Dangers of Alcohol – See how alcohol can negatively affect people’s lives.
- Why People Drink – Find out some common excuses that people use when they drink too much alcohol.
- Alcohol and Our Brains – Take a look at how alcohol is processed by our bodies and how it impacts the brain.
- Peer Pressure – Get some useful advice on how to respond when other kids pressure you to drink or do drugs.
- Alcohol Questions from Kids – Read some kid-submitted questions about parents or other people who drink too much.
- 12 Steps – These 12 steps are often used by alcoholics to help them quit drinking.