This information is available from PAD’s Parent & Community Handbook, 7th edition.

Alcohol is one of the most popular drugs for youth as well as adults. Although many people think of alcohol as a “pick-me- up”, it is in fact a “depressant” and slows down the activity of the central nervous system.  The effects of alcohol can be very serious.  Even over a short period of time, drinking can be extremely dangerous – for example, when a number of drinks are consumed quickly or when combined with other activities such as driving. The effects of alcohol are also increased when drinking is mixed with other drugs such as sleeping pills, tranquilizers and some cold remedies.


Short-term Effects of Drinking Alcohol:

  • at first, the person feels more relaxed and less inhibited
  • the person will not be able to think as clearly and judgments and decisions will be affected
  • then the person’s reflexes will become slower, they will have trouble working and doing things which require physical co-ordination
  • the person’s mood may change, they may become angry or more willing to take risks
  • if the person drinks a large amount of alcohol very rapidly, their breathing may slow down seriously or even stop  [alcohol poisoning], possibly causing death
  • the effects of alcohol may increase if combined with certain other drugs (e.g. pain or cold medication) or high-caffeine energy drinks


Alcohol and Teens:

  • recent evidence shows teens are more susceptible to the intoxicating effects of alcohol
  • more than a third of older students report binge drinking – drinking 5 or more drinks on one occasion
  • the risks associated with teen drinking include serious injuries, risky sexual behaviour and likelihood of using other drugs
  • the more a teen drinks, the more these risks increase


Alcohol and Disease:

When alcohol is used heavily on a regular basis it is a factor in many different diseases .There is strong evidence linking heavy drinking with cancers of the upper digestive tract, including the esophagus, moth and pharynx.  As well, alcohol is a factor in liver disease.  More than moderate drinking can lead to increased blood pressure and excessive drinking is a contributing factor in strokes.


Women and Alcohol:

Women are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol because:

  • they generally have more fat, and less water in their bodies than men do. Alcohol is water soluble, so less water in the blood means higher blood alcohol concentration. This means that women will become impaired faster than men.
  • they have less active alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, which begins to break down alcohol in the stomach lining.
  • women who drink regularly more than 7 drinks a week have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
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