Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

Alcohol Effects

Some of the slang names for alcohol are booze, sauce, brewskis, hooch, hard stuff, and juice. Don't worry about trying to fit in or be cool when it comes to drinking alcohol. Most teens aren't drinking alcohol. Drinking is not as common or as "cool" as some people would like you to believe it is.

 

Recommended Related to Substance Abuse & Addiction

Going to Rehab

If you can’t stop using alcohol or drugs, even when your use harms your health, job, or family, you may need to go to rehab.  That’s the common name for a drug rehabilitation center. It can be part of a hospital, or it can be a single facility, that offers intense care for addiction. Doctors, nurses, and therapists will try to help you stop using, recover, and get you on track to stay sober. You may stay in the center for a week, or longer than a month.

Read the Going to Rehab article > >

Alcohol is in drinks like beer, wine, liquor, wine coolers, whiskey, liqueurs, and even some coffee drinks. If you are not sure whether the drink you are going to have has alcohol in it, check the label. If there is alcohol in the drink, it has to say so on the label—it's the law. If you are still not sure or can't tell from the label, ask a trusted adult. Alcohol is really unhealthy for our bodies. It is considered a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. The main job of the CNS is to send signals throughout the body. For example, the CNS tells you when to raise your hand in class or how to jump over a hurdle. Our brains think of the actions it wants our bodies to do and sends messages to that part of the body. When this system is slowed down by alcohol, the body can't react as quickly to the messages the brain is sending. That is why it is important for people not to drive after they drink alcohol.

Besides harming the central nervous system, alcohol can weaken our immune system and make us more likely to get sick or develop diseases.

Here are the parts of my body that could be damaged by alcohol if I chose to drink—yuck!

Heart

Drinking alcohol could cause your blood pressure to rise, increase your heart rate, cause your heart to beat abnormally, and it could increase the size of your heart. All of these things are bad for you. If you have an irregular heartbeat, you won't be able to play sports or exercise as well as you normally could.

Stomach

Drinking alcohol over a long period of time could cause stomach ulcers or stomach cancer.

Liver

Drinking alcohol could cause diseases such as cirrhosis (pronounced "sir-o-sis"), inflamed liver (hepatitis), or even cancer of the liver. The liver is the largest organ in our body. Its job is to keep poisons like germs and bacteria out of our blood. The liver also makes the protein that causes our blood to clot, and clotting is what causes scabs to form and makes us stop bleeding when we get a cut. We need our liver so we can stay healthy and so our bodies stay clean. Cirrhosis is a disease that damages the liver. It weakens the liver's ability to clot and keep our blood free from poisons and bacteria. People can get cirrhosis in different ways, but drinking too much alcohol is the most common way.

Brain

Drinking alcohol leads to a loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory lapses, and even blackouts. This means alcohol won't let you do the things you normally do that require coordination and skill. You can't ride a bike, inline skate, play sports, or even walk in a straight line.

WebMD Public Information from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Today on WebMD

pills pouring from prescription bottle
Video
Hangover Myths Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Article
prescription medication
Article
 
Hands reaching for medicine
Article
overturned shot glass
Article
 
assortment of medication
Article
How to Avoid Social Drinking
Article