Apart from caffeine, alcohol is the most widely used and abused drug by both young people and adults. Alcohol, found in beer, wine and hard liquors, is absorbed directly into your bloodstream by your stomach and from there goes to all your tissues. The immediate effects of alcohol vary depending on many things. Your size, weight, gender, the amount of food you have in your stomach, as well as the amount of alcohol you have consumed all make a difference to how it will react in your body.
Alcohol is a sedative so even a small amount will slow down your brain's ability to function. As a result, your co-ordination, reflexes and judgement are all impaired. Alcohol often increases aggressiveness which can result in fighting and violence.
Common short-term effects of alcohol are light-headedness, slurred speech, dizziness, nausea, talkativeness and clumsy movements. A hangover can even affect you the next day with nausea and vomiting, a headache and tiredness. Long term effects can include permanent damage to your brain and liver.
Why should teenagers choose not to drink? Alcohol is particularly dangerous for young people because their bodies are still growing. Young organs are easily damaged and brain cells killed by alcohol cannot be replaced. As with other drugs, teenagers are in much greater danger than adults of becoming addicted to alcohol. Typically, it will take 5 - 15 years for an adult to become an alcoholic while it only takes an adolescent 6 months - two years. Alcohol is so dangerous to developing bodies that mothers who drink even a small amount while pregnant run the risk of having a baby that has physical abnormalities or is brain-damaged.
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