What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a depressant drug, made from fermented or distilled grains or fruit. In most countries, it is the most commonly abused substance by both teenagers and adults. The “high” that everyone gets from drinking alcohol is actually the feeling caused by its depressant effect on the brain. The following diagram shows the depressant effects on the brain when a person drinks various amounts of alcohol:

When brain function is depressed, the person may lose their inhibitions and feel “relaxed” but is also at risk for several negative consequences: Saying or doing things that would normally cause embarrassment, poor decision making resulting in unwanted sex, accidents, fights, accepting offers to try other illegal substances, or driving while impaired or drunk are some examples.

Under normal circumstances for most people, the body can safely handle about one standard drink per hour. However, your size, how fast you drink, what you've eaten, how you feel, and whether you are a female or male affect how alcohol affects you.

The same amount of alcohol content is in a 5-oz (or about 150 ml) glass of wine, a 12-oz (or about 330 ml) bottle of regular (4%) beer, and a regular 1 oz (or about 30 ml) serving of hard liquor/spirits. No matter which you drink, it's all the same to your body.

Prevention-Smart launched for initial evaluation on June 26th 2009. If you have any comments or feedback, please email us via the contact form.