· The most commonly used alcohol is ethanol, C2H5OH. It has been produced and consumed by humans since prehistoric times for a variety of hygienic, dietary, medicinal, religious, and recreational reasons.
· Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented. Fermentation is a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in the food into alcohol.
· Reasons that teens use alcohol and other drugs are: curiosity, to feel good, reduce stress, and relax, to fit in, to feel older. From a very young age, kids see advertising messages showing beautiful people enjoying life — and alcohol. And because many parents and other adults use alcohol socially — having beer or wine with dinner, for example — alcohol seems harmless to many teens.
· 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. Depending on the person, intoxication can make someone very friendly and talkative or very aggressive and angry.
· Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant—leading to slowed reactions, slurred speech, and ultimately, to unconsciousness. Alcohol progressively affects different brain areas; first affecting the part of the brain that controls inhibitions. When people lose their inhibitions, they may talk more, get rowdy, and do foolish things. After several drinks, they may feel “high,” but really, their nervous system is slowing down.
· The observed effects depend directly on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is related to the amount of alcohol consumed. The BAC can rise significantly within 20 minutes after having a drink. The BAC increases when the body absorbs alcohol faster than it can eliminate it. The body can only eliminate about one dose of alcohol per hour. The body responds to alcohol in stages, which correspond to an increase in BAC: