What is alcohol?

  • Alkohol Alcohol is synonymous with liquor. It is often consumed during social events (social drinker) or used as a form of mood elevating drug (feel good drink).
  • It can cause addiction if large amounts are consumed frequently.
  • Alcoholic drinks are present in many forms including beers, wines, brandy and whiskey.

What does alcohol do to your body?

  • It slows the function of the Central Nervous System- Slowing down reaction time.
  • It alters a person’s perceptions, emotions, movements, vision and hearing.

What are the risk factors of excessive drinking?

  • Environmental factors, e.g. :
    • Easily available.
    • Not too expensive.
    • Advertised attractively on media – Usually associated with fun and status.
  • Social factors :
    • Peer influence.
    • Family background.
    • Influence by idol and perceived role models.
    • Culture.
  • Biological factors :
    • Genetics.
    • Personality (e.g. impulsive, excitable person).

Myths and realities of alcohol use

Myths Realities
  • Alcohol use makes one feel like an adult
  • Teenagers who do not take alcohol are more mature, able to think rationally and less likely to get into trouble.
  • Alcohol makes it easy to gain friends and be accepted as part of the group
  • Friends who do not drink alcohol are usually more trustworthy and make better caring friends.
  • Relationships between friends are more healthy without alcohol use.
  • Alcohol use makes one appear “cool” and successful.
  • Alcohol induces drunkenness, which is very “uncool” and dangerous.
  • Alcohol gets rid of boredom and brings on the fun feeling.
  • Fun is much better enjoyed when one is sober and involved in healthy activities. Fun under influence of alcohol can easily be forgotten
  • It is best to enjoy alcohol as a teenager so that one can sober up later when one has more adult responsibilities
  • Teenagers have important responsibilities, too. Moreover, alcohol can cause addiction right until late adulthood.
  • Starting healthy activities at a young age would make one a much better and healthier adult.
  • The younger you start the more damage is done to your body
  • Alcohol helps one to escape from life’s worries
  • Escape from life’s worries with alcohol is short-lived.
  • Drinking alcohol as a coping mechanism gives rise to more problems in the short AND long term.

What are the effects of alcohol?

The social effects are :

  • Reduced concentration and do poorly in studies.
  • School absenteeism, affecting academic performance.
  • Delinquent behaviour.
  • Involvement in crime to support drinking habit.

The physical effects are :

  • Intoxication (a person may stagger, have slurred speech, be confused and disorientated).
  • Poisoning (the symptoms include extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty in breathing, extremely low blood sugar, seizures and even death).

Health is also affected :

  • Permanent damage to the brain.
  • Liver diseases (hepatitis, cirrhosis, cancer).
  • Heart disease (increased blood pressure, strokes).
  • Gastric ulceration.
  • Intestinal cancer.
  • Reduced sex drive and impotence.
  • Spontaneous abortion.
  • Abnormal babies.
  • Anaemia (low haemoglobin level).

Psychosocial problems may also arise:

  • Reduced mental functioning.
  • Personality changes.
  • Aggressive behaviour.
  • Depression.
  • Suicide.
  • Memory disruptions.

What are the indirect health risks?

Alcoholics (a person who drinks alcoholic substances habitually and to excess or who suffers from alcoholism) are prone to:

  • Risky behaviors.
  • Practise unsafe sex (high risk for HIV / AIDS).
  • Display violent behaviour.
  • Suffer injuries, for example motor vehicle accidents.
  • Making a fool of themselves


What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a state of alcohol addiction as a result of alcohol abuse.

When does one suspect a person has alcohol addiction?

  • A strong craving to drink.
  • An inability to stop drinking.
  • Physical dependence (shaking, sweating, nausea).
  • The need to increase the amount of alcohol.
  • Continued drinking despite difficulties caused by alcohol.
  • Speaks highly of alcohol consumption.

How can you stay off alcohol?

You should:

  • Practise a healthy life style.
  • Know how to :
    • Stay away from friends who drink alcohol.
    • Keep busy – Take up sports, start an exercise program or hobby, participate in beneficial social activities (e.g. Prostar, Rakan Muda).
    • Never give in, not even to a single offer of alcohol – Say “no”.
    • Stay away from places that encourage you to take alcoholic drinks like bars, lounges and discos.
    • Develop good coping skills (for details see Problem solving).

What can you do if you have a drinking problem?

  • Get help as soon as possible.
  • Talk to an adult you can trust (parents, doctors, school counselors, etc) or a supportive person.

Last Reviewed : 27 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Nor Saleha bt. Ibrahim Tamin
: Prof. Madya Dr. Foong Kin
: Prof. Madya Dr. Alvin Ng Lai Oon
Reviewer : Dr. Salmiah bt. Md. Sharif
: Dr. Wan Fadhilah br. Wan Ismail