National Families in Action
A Guide to Drugs and the Brain



Drug Effects

Drug Research

Drug Street Names

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Alcohol comes in many forms, including liquor (bourbon,
gin, scotch), beer, wine, and wine coolers. In general,
one ounce of liquor, one beer, and one glass of wine
(5 ounces) contain equal amounts of alcohol.

Alcohol acts on the brain and can produce addiction. Short-term effects: The more a person drinks in one sitting, the more pronounced short-term effects become. Small amounts (1-2 drinks) generally produce pleasant feelings. Larger amounts produce depressant effects on the brain. Judgment, reaction time, speech and motor control are increasingly impaired with increasing amounts of alcohol. Drunk drivers kill about 23,000 Americans a year. Very large amounts of alcohol can cause death from overdose by reducing the number of messages the brain sends to the chest muscles that regulate breathing. The drinker stops breathing and dies. Long-term effects: Over time, alcohol can produce tolerance, physical dependence and addiction. Alcohol can cause many kinds of cancer and can permanently damage the brain. In severe cases, alcohol destroys the part of the brain where short-term memory occurs, making it impossible to learn anything new. Women should not drink during pregnancy. Fetal alcohol syndrome is the leading, preventable cause of mental retardation in the United States.

Common Street Names
Juice, cold ones, brewskies, poison, booze, hooch, sauce.

Legal Status
In the United States, it is legal to produce and sell alcohol to adults and legal for adults to buy it. It is illegal to sell alcohol to those under age 21, and illegal for them to buy it.

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