FS003, January 2009




Alcohol Use

What should you know about alcohol use? Alcohol is the drug most often used and abused by teenagers; Alcohol use includes beer, wine, wine coolers, hard liquor, and mixed drinks; Alcohol is a chemical that can be harmful to many body organs; Binge drinking for women is having more then three drinks per occasion; Drinking games, competitions, and bets can be life
threatening.

The American College of Obstetricians and GynEcologists Fact Sheet Tool Kit for Teen Care, second edition Alcohol Use What should you know about alcohol use? • Alcohol is the drug most often used and abused by teenagers. • Alcohol use includes beer, wine, wine coolers, hard liquor, and mixed drinks. • Alcohol is a chemical that can be harmful to many body organs. • Binge drinking for women is having more then three drinks per occasion. • Drinking games, competitions, and bets can be life threatening. • Alcohol abuse is drinking too often or too much even though there are negative consequences. • The legal drinking age is 21 years. Use or purchase of alcohol by individuals younger than 21 years or selling alcohol to individuals younger than 21 years is illegal. • Alcoholism is the body and mind’s physical need for alcohol (addiction). • One drink is a 12-ounce glass of beer, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Each of these has the same amount of alcohol. Who drinks? • Some families use alcohol as a beverage at mealtimes and as part of religious and community celebrations. • Adolescents give many different reasons for drinking in other situations when drinking can be risky: — To feel mature and be like adults — To express independence — To fit in with a group — To appear sexy — To deal with stress or boredom — To cope with depression and difficult situations What are the short-term risks of alcohol use? • Nausea, vomiting, and bad breath • Alcohol in any form can affect thinking and coordination causing: — Poor decision making — Saying things without thinking about the consequence — Clumsiness and poor performance — Risk of having unprotected sex — Risk of being pressured into having sex or being raped — Risk of using illegal drugs or misusing prescription drugs • Drinking in large amounts is a common cause of many serious injuries and deaths from the following situations: — Car, motorcycle, bicycle, and boat accidents — Drowning — Falls from windows and balconies — Fires • Excess drinking can cause alcohol poisoning, leading to coma and even death • Breaking the law—alcohol use by individuals younger than 21 years can lead to arrest, detention, loss of driver’s license, and a police record. What are the risks of long-term use of alcohol? • Alcoholism—addiction to alcohol • Failure in school • Loss of a job • Difficulty in relationships with friends and family members • Poor nutrition, lack of proper vitamins • Loss of strength • Weight gain or weight loss • Severe and sometimes permanent damage to many body organs • Permanent brain damage • Depression and increased risk for suicide Tool Kit for Teen Care, second edition What are the risks of drinking alcohol while pregnant? • The baby is at risk for permanent mental disorders, including retardation. • The baby may be born early (premature). • The baby may be low birth weight and always be small. How would you know if you have a drinking problem? • You have a problem if you answer yes to one or more of the following questions: —Have you ever ridden in a car driven by someone (including yourself) who had been drinking? —Do you ever use alcohol to relax or feel better about yourself? —Do you ever use alcohol when you are alone? —Do you forget what you were doing while using alcohol? — Do your friends or family ever tell you to cut down on your alcohol use? —Have you ever been in trouble because of using alcohol? What can you do if you have a drinking problem? • Get help from someone you can trust (family, friends, a school counselor, or a religious or spiritual leader). • Talk to a health professional for advice. • Avoid parties and places where alcohol is served. • Never drink and drive. Make a deal with your parent(s), similar to the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) agreement, for a ride home (with no questions asked if you feel like you are in a difficult situation). This contract is designed to encourage communication between young people and their parents about destructive decisions related to alcohol, drugs, peer pressure, and behavior. • Join a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous— there are groups just for teens. • Contact the resources at the end of this fact sheet for information. For More Information We have provided information on the following organizations and web sites because they have information that may be of interest to our readers. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not necessarily endorse the views expressed or the facts presented by these organizations or their web sites. Further, ACOG does not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available from these organizations or on these web sites. Al-Anon/Alateen World Service Office Telephone: (888) 4AL-ANON (425-2666) Web: www.al-anon.alateen.org Alcoholics Anonymous Telephone: (212) 870-3400 Web: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org American Academy of Family Physicians Telephone: (913) 906-6000 or (800) 274-2237 Web: www.aafp.org American Academy of Pediatrics Telephone: (847) 434-4000 Web: www.aap.org The Cool Spot, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Telephone: (301) 443-3860 Web: www.thecoolspot.gov Drug Strategies Telephone: (202) 289-9070 Web: www.drugstrategies.org girlshealth.gov Web: www.4girls.gov Join Together Telephone: (617) 437-1500 Web: www.jointogether.org National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information Telephone: (800) 729-6686 Web: http://ncadi.samhsa.gov National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Information Telephone: (301) 443-3860 Web: www.niaaa.nih.gov National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign Office of National Drug Control Policy Telephone: (800) 666-3332 Web: www.mediacampaign.org www.theantidrug.com Partnership for a Drug Free America Telephone: (212) 922-1560 Web: www.drugfree.org Students Against Destructive Decisions Telephone: (877) SADD-INC (723-3462) Web: www.sadd.org Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Telephone: (877) SAMHSA-7 (726-4727) Web: www.samhsa.gov Prepared by the ACOG Committee on Adolescent Health Care. For more information, e-mail adolhlth@acog.org. Copyright © 2009, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 409 12th Street, SW, PO Box 96920, Washington, DC 20090-6920 (AA415) 12345/32109 (FS003)