We are glad you have taken the time to educate yourself on the impact alcohol can have on your life. We are glad you have taken the time to educate yourself on the impact alcohol can have on your life. While it might at times seem like the gateway to a good time, it can have many consequences. To help you make positive choices and keep you safe, here are some things you should know:


Often you hear all alcohol referred to as the same thing but all alcohol is not created equally…

Drinking chart

Having one or two drinks can mean something entirely different depending on the type and size of alcoholic drink you consume. One drink can often contain the equivalent alcohol content of four standard beers. The fruity specialty drinks can be especially deceiving. This is important to know because…

  • Alcohol can kill you. Drinking large amounts of alcohol at one time or very rapidly (also known as binge drinking) can cause alcohol poisoning, which can lead to coma or even death. Drinking and driving also can be deadly.
  • Alcohol affects your self-control. Alcohol depresses your central nervous system, lowers your inhibitions, and impairs your judgment. Drinking can lead to risky behaviors, such as driving when you shouldn’t or having unprotected sex.
  • Alcohol affects your brain. Drinking alcohol leads to a loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory lapses, and even blackouts.
  • Alcohol can hurt you—even if you’re not the one drinking. If you’re around people who are drinking, you have an increased risk of being seriously injured, involved in car crashes, or affected by violence. At the very least, you may have to deal with people who are sick, out of control, or unable to take care of themselves.

Before You Risk It…

  • Know the risks. Alcohol is a drug. Mixing it with any other drug can be extremely dangerous. Alcohol and acetaminophen—a common ingredient in OTC pain and fever reducers—can damage your liver. Alcohol mixed with other drugs can cause nausea, vomiting, fainting, heart problems, and difficulty breathing. Mixing alcohol and drugs also can lead to coma and death.
  • Keep your edge. Alcohol is a depressant – or downer – because it reduces brain activity. If you are depressed before you start drinking, alcohol can make you feel worse.
  • Look around you. Most teens don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that 71% of people 12-20 haven’t had a drink in the past month.
  • Know the law. It is illegal to buy or possess alcohol if you are under the age of 21.
  • Get the facts. One drink can make you fail a breath test. In Illinois, people under age 21 can lose their driver’s license, be subject to a heavy fine, or have their car permanently taken away.
  • Stay informed. “Binge” drinking means having five or more drinks at a time, usually within a two-hour period. Studies show that more than 35% of adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms—such as binge drinking—by age 19.

Know the Signs…

How can you tell if a friend has a drinking problem?
Sometimes it’s tough to tell. But there are signs you can look for. If your friend has one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may have a problem with alcohol:

  •      Gets drunk on a regular basis
  •      Lies about how much alcohol he or she uses
  •      Believes that alcohol is necessary to have fun
  •      Has frequent hangovers
  •      Feels run-down, depressed, or even suicidal
  •      Has “blackouts”—forgets what he or she did while drinking

What can you do to help someone who has a drinking problem? Be a real friend. You might even save a life. Encourage your friend to stop or seek professional help. For information and referrals, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 800-729-6686.

The bottom line: If you know someone who has a problem with alcohol, urge him or her to stop or get help. If you drink – stop! The longer you ignore the real facts, the more chances you take with your life. It’s never too late. Talk to your parents, a doctor, a counselor, a teacher, or another adult you trust. Do it today!

To learn more about alcohol or obtain referrals to programs in your community, contact one of the following toll-free numbers:

SAMHSA National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information

800-487-4889 (TDD)
877-767-8432 (en Español)