Get Familiar with the Facts About Alcohol

Introduction to alcohol

In truth, alcohol needs no introduction. It is the most commonly used addictive substance in this country. One in every 12 adults — more than 17 million people — are alcohol dependent in some form. Several million more engage in drinking patterns that could lead to dependence on or abuse of alcohol.

From a family perspective, more than 7 million children live in a household where one or more parent is abusing or dependent on alcohol. And more than half of all adults have a family history of problem drinking or alcohol dependency. This is significant, as alcoholism can influence all aspects of an individual’s life, from emotional stability to career and financial stability, health and, of course, relationships.

Here are the facts about alcohol

Class of drug: Depressant
Main active ingredient: Ethanol/Ethyl alcohol, which is made by fermenting or distilling grains, fruit or vegetables. Alcohol is found in beverages like beer and wine, and in hard liquor, such as rum, gin, tequila, whiskey and vodka.
What it looks like: Liquid, either clear or colored
Street names: Booze, Juice, Spirits, Brew, Sauce
How it is used: Taken orally
Duration of high:  Effects of high can last from one to four hours. The effect of alcohol on the body by volume is the same. The effects are based on the amount of ethanol consumed, not the type of alcoholic drink.
Withdrawal symptoms: Restlessness, sweating, tremors, insomnia, anxiety, convulsions, death
Detected in the body: With a healthy liver, an average person can eliminate one drink (.6 oz of alcohol) per hour. Detection time in urine is one to two days.
Physical effects: Small amounts can produce relaxed muscles, headache, nausea. Larger amounts can cause slurred speech and double vision. Very large amounts can cause respiratory depression, coma and death.
Mental effects: Small amounts can impair judgment and decrease inhibitions and anxiety. Large amounts can produce memory loss.
Long-term effects: Liver and brain damage, heart disease, cancer, ulcers, pancreatitis
Doses: A standard drink is equal to 0.6 oz of pure alcohol, which is equal to 12 oz of beer, 8 oz of malt liquor, 5 oz of wine and 1.5 oz or a “shot” of 80-proof liquor (e.g. gin, rum, vodka).


Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 g/dL or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.


Teen Alcohol Use in the U.S.

In 2017, 15.5 percent of high school students in the United States reported that they drank alcohol for the first time before the age of 13. Approximately 60 percent of students said they had at least one drink of alcohol in their lifetime, compared to 63 percent in 2015 and 79 percent two decades ago. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2017)

Sources: National Household Survey–US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug Abuse Warning Network, US Department of Health and Human Services-Center for Disease and Prevention, Illinois Drug Education Alliance

For more information about alcohol, alcoholism or alcohol dependency, abuse, and addiction — or to take the first step toward new hope and sober living — call Rosecrance at (866) 330-8729.