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Factsheet on teens and drug abuse


What is alcohol, and why do teens drink?

The scientific name for alcohol that people drink is ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Beer, wine, and liquor all contain ethyl alcohol. Other types of alcohol, like rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol), are poisonous if ingested.
teen drinking beer

After you drink an alcoholic beverage like beer or wine, the alcohol enters your bloodstream from your stomach and small intestine. From there, it travels to your brain. There, it slows reaction time, makes you less coordinated, impairs your vision, and - even at relatively low doses - leads to unclear thinking and problems making good judgments. Click the button to see the effects of drinking.

Different drinks have different levels of alcohol concentrations. Beer, wine, and liquor all contain different amounts of alcohol. Beer is between 3% and 5% percent alcohol; wine is about 12%; and liquor usually is about 40% alcohol. One beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one glass of wine or one "shot" of liquor.

When people drink too much, with time they risk becoming addicted to alcohol. This is called alcoholism, or alcohol dependence. It’s a disease, and it can happen at any age.
Common signs include:

bulletCraving … a strong need or urge to drink
bulletLoss of control … not being able to stop or cut down drinking
bulletNot feeling well after heavy drinking … upset stomach, sweating, shakiness, or nervousness
bulletA need to drink more … to get the same effect as before
bulletNeglecting activities … giving up or cutting back on other activities
bulletContinuing to drink … even though alcohol is causing problems

Peer Pressure
Sometimes you close friends keep telling you to do something (like dye your hair) because they are all doing it. Or everyone in your class is going on holiday during the vacation, and you feel you are the only one not going. It can be a bit uncomfortable because sometimes we all want to fit well within a group. Pressure is the feeling that you are being pushed toward making a certain choice—good or bad. This peer (A peer is someone in your own age group) pressure.
One way to stay strong is to know yourself and know what works well for you. Use your head in making decisions and don't give in to silly or foolish ideas, just because your friends said so. You can always speak to your parents if you are worried about anything. They love you more than your friends and will help you with your choices.

What is binge drinking?
Binge drinking happens when someone drinks more than four (for women) or five (for men) alcoholic drinks in about two hours, with the intention to getting drunk. Binge drinking is the most harmful type of drinking. It usually happens at teen or student parties.

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