Understanding Alcohol

What do you know about alcohol?

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Get some quick facts here.

How Does It Affect the Body?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. Alcohol actually blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters a person’s perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing.  People who drink are affected even before they show signs of being drunk, especially when it comes to decision-making abilities.

In very small amounts, alcohol can help a person feel more relaxed or less anxious. More alcohol causes greater changes in the brain, resulting in intoxication. People who have overused alcohol may stagger, lose their coordination, and slur their speech. They will probably be confused and disoriented. Reaction times are slowed dramatically — which is why people are told not to drink and drive. People who are intoxicated may think they’re moving properly when they’re not. They may act totally out of character.

Short-Term Consequences of Intoxication (being “drunk”): 

  • Inhibitions and memory:
    • A person is less aware that his/her behavior may be inappropriate or risky.
    • People may say and do things that they will regret later, or possibly not remember at all.
    • Inhibitions are lost – leading to poor decision making.
  • Decision-making skills:
    • An intoxicated person has a harder time making good decisions and is less likely to recognize potential danger.
    • When they drink, individuals are more likely to be impulsive.
    • They may be at greater risk for having an alcohol-related traffic crash, getting into fights, or making unwise decisions about sex.
  • Coordination and physical control:
    • When drinking leads to loss of balance, slurred speech, and blurred vision, even normal activities can become more dangerous.

Long-Term Consequences as the Teen Brain Develops:

  • Research shows that drinking during the teen years could interfere with normal brain development and change the brain in ways that:
    • Have negative effects on information processing and learning.
    • Increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life.
  • Death: If people drink too much, they will eventually get sleepy and pass out. Reflexes like gagging and breathing can be suppressed. That means they could vomit and choke, or stop breathing completely.

Alcohol continues to affect the brain and body long after the last drink has been finished. Even after someone stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream, impairing judgment and coordination for hours.

What to do if someone develops alcohol poisoning

Possible signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Unconscious or semiconscious state
  • Slow respiration—eight or fewer breaths per minute, or lapses between breaths of more than eight seconds
  • Cold, clammy, pale, or bluish skin
  • A strong odor of alcohol on the breath and coming from the skin

Here’s what to do in an alcohol-poisoning emergency:

  • Never leave someone who may have alcohol poisoning alone to “sleep it off.”
  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Gently turn the person on his or her left side, using a pillow placed at the small of the back to keep him or her in that position. This will help prevent choking should the individual vomit.
  • Stay with the person until medical help arrives.

Join the movement for healthy living.

It is simply not true that “everybody is doing it.”  Walk for Health!

Join the Stand UP Foundation on Friday, March 3 at 7:00 PM for a Neon Nights Walk at Harbourside.  The walk will educate participants about alcohol and other health issues and help fund Stand UP’s prevention programs.  Summit Performance Consulting LLC is proud to be a Neon Night’s sponsor and to help keep teens mentally fit.  Register here.


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