Just turn on the TV. Beer commercials
practically jump off the screen: Here's Frankie and Louie, eyeballing
some frogs, who are busy croaking out the name of their favorite
beer. Why, one just caught a beer truck with its tongue.
Okay, but what's
he going to do with it?
Turn the channel.
Here's a bored-looking dude, checking out his own tube. The phone
rings, and you know what's up the rest of the way out: "Wazzzupppp?"
a blast from the past: A couple of ex-jocks arguing about whether
their beer tastes great or is less filling. Hmmm.
It's not that
the ads aren't fun-or funny. It's just that between the lines
and under their breath, they say something that's not totally
true: "Drinking's cool. Trust us."
What they don't
say is important, too: Alcohol is a drug, and it can be dangerous,
A look at the
numbers proves it: About 16 million Americans have drinking problems.
And tens of thousands die each year from alcohol-related accidents
why is that a lot of people just don't understand what alcohol
is and how it affects the mind and body.
we put together this pamphlet.
In it, we'll
discuss what alcohol is and explain how it works. We'll also
talk about some of the problems it can cause and suggest ways
to avoid those problems.
life is different than TV commercials. In real life, people can
get messed up by alcohol.
Maybe TV frogs
and lizards don't, but real people do.
booze is as simple as 1-2-3. In fact, you could even say that:
- 1 (you,
for example) should probably start
- 2 learn
about alcohol by considering its
- 3 main
forms -- beer, wine, and liquor.
Beer is brewed from grain, with
malt, yeast, and hops thrown in for bubbles and bounce. It contains
Wine is made from fermented grapes
and other fruits. It contains 7-14% alcohol.
Liquor (whiskey, gin, rum, or vodka), is made from distilled
grains, and contains about 40% alcohol.
many people think that some forms of alcohol are worse than others,
the fact is that they all deliver about the same amount of pure
alcohol per drink.
that an ounce-and-a-half shot of whiskey contains about the same
amount of alcohol as a five-ounce glass of wine or a 12-ounce
bottle of beer.
Beer and wine
just contain more water, that's all.
..Pick Your Poison
The drug present
in all the different types of alcohol is called ethanol, or ethyl
It's a poison
in large doses, but causes feelings of relaxation and excitement
at smaller doses. Still, since it is a poison, it can cause serious
Let's take a look
drinks, alcohol goes straight to the stomach, where it's absorbed
into the bloodstream and pumped to the brain and other parts
of the body.
drug effects in the brain and side effects everywhere else, ethanol
is transported to the body organs that break it down and eliminate
it from the body.
kidneys and lungs help in this process, the real work gets done
by the liver, which is able to process about a half-ounce of
pure alcohol every hour.
bad, considering how poisonous ethanol actually is. The problem
is that it isn't fast enough.
drinkers who suck it down faster than the liver can burn it up
begin to feel the toxic (or poisonous) effects of alcohol.
The fancy name
for this process is intoxication. The everyday word for it is
There are a
lot of other words for it, too, and we've all heard most of them
-- words like blasted, blotto, polluted, stupid, and wasted.
any common themes here, or what?
..Alcohol, the Drug
a member of the drug group known as depressants, because it depresses
(or slows down) the brain and nervous system.
When a person
drinks more than the liver can filter, the excess alcohol can
start to seriously depress the drinker's brain and central nervous
the time when he or she starts to lose control.
You can hear
it in the drinker's voice and see it reflected in behavior as
alcohol alters speech, coordination, and mood.
where things start and end-or where they start to end, at least.
The full story
isn't over until all the alcohol is metabolized and eliminated
from the body, and all body systems swing back to normal.
takes about 24 hours-but it can seem a lot longer to a person
with a hangover.
Time only flies
when you're having fun.
So if a person
drinks once in a while to relax, is that a problem? Probably
not, but it can turn into problems down the road or, for that
matter, on the road.
For one thing,
people who drink to relax can start to rely on alcohol. After
a while, it can be tough to chill out without it. That can lead
to more drinking-and more stuff to worry about.
And just a
few drinks -- less, even, than it takes for someone to feel drunk
-- can reduce the judgment skills and coordination needed to
drive safely. That's why it's a good idea to learn other ways
to have fun and feel good.
That way, you
get to be the one in control of your life, not alcohol.
of people drink, but only some have problems. Does that mean
it's basically safe for others?
-- because there are other things besides alcoholism to think
about. For starters, drinking can cause big-time health problems,
including liver disease and several kinds of cancer.
And there are
other risks, too -- personal ones.
drink, sometimes they say things they shouldn't or that they
don't really mean.
Or they can
do things they normally wouldn't do, and hurt the people they
care about most -- or themselves.
And those are
just some of the hidden costs of drinking. And they all cost
a lot more than money.
no one ever talks about this stuff in beer commercials. Maybe
it's because the reality isn't funny, at all.
..Here's Looking at You, Kid
There are a
lot of reasons people have for drinking: to relax, to be sociable,
to have a good time, to be cool.
And if you
pay attention to even half the commercials on TV (and they spend
billions of advertising dollars every year betting that you do),
you've already seen more reasons than you'll ever need.
But when you
stop and think about it, there's one really good reason for not
drinking, and nobody talks about it much.
bad, because it makes more sense than all the beer-brained frogs
and all the slogans put together:
can take away the power you need to make things happen in your
life. Cool things. Magical things.
And the next time you see a slick,
funny beer commercial on TV, ask yourself: If booze is so great,
why do they have to work so hard to sell it?