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Alcohol - it can affect your life - for kids

alcohol; drug; drinking; drunk; drink ;


What is alcohol?

Alcohol is a drug (a chemical that has an effect on the body, and is not a food).

There are different kinds of alcohol.
alcoholThe kind that people drink is called ethyl alcohol.
This is made by fermenting different things with yeast and water.

What is used and the way this is done depends on what kind of drink is being made.

  • Grain makes whisky and beer.
  • Potatoes make vodka
  • Grapes make wine and brandy.
  • Honey makes mead.
  • Sugar makes rum.

How does alcohol affect people?

  1. small amount of alcohol can make the person feel relaxed.
  2. With more alcohol, people cannot control their behaviour (they may do silly things or be violent), and their movements are more clumsy (uncoordinated).

What happens to alcohol in the body?

  1. Alcohol goes from the mouth to the stomach and small intestine.
  2. It passes through the walls of the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream.
  3. The blood takes the alcohol to the brain where it slows down the messages in the brain (alcohol is a depressant drug).
  4. The blood also takes the alcohol to the liver, which starts to take out the alcohol from the blood. The more alcohol that is drunk the longer it takes for the liver to clean it all out.

Why young people drink alcohol

Many of the ads about alcohol show people having fun, surrounded by friends, and give the message that drinking alcohol is super cool.

Many kids would see parents, adults and older young people drinking alcohol as a social thing. It is not surprising that some kids think that drinking alcohol is cool, makes them seem more grown up and is the 'thing to do'.

Some kids may think it is daring to try alcohol and others may feel that they want to be part of the group who are trying alcohol.

The Law in Australia says that children under 18 cannot buy alcohol, or be served with alcohol in a hotel, and they are not allowed to be given alcohol in any public place unless they are given the alcohol by their parent.

There are good reasons for this.

  • A young person's body cannot cope with the effects of alcohol and this may lead to him/her behaving in an unsafe way.
  • Also too much alcohol is a dangerous poison for children. Many very young children have had to go to hospital with alcohol poisoning after they have gone around the house after an adult's party, and 'finished' all the drinks that have been left where they can reach them.
  • If kids start drinking alcohol when they are young or when they are teenagers, they are more likely to drink too much alcohol when they are older.
  • Alcohol can afect the way the brain develops and grows.

Too much alcohol

A standard drink has 10 grams of alcohol in it. The size of a standard drink depends on what the drink is.

  • Spirits, like whisky or vodka, have a lot of alcohol in a small amount so a standard drink is a small amount, about 30 ml.
  • Wine has about 10 grams of alcohol in 100 ml.
  • A light beer has about 10 grams of alcohol in 425ml.
  • Cans and bottles of alcoholic drinks have different amounts of alcohol, depending on the amount of liquid.

The number of standard drinks in a can or bottle is written on the label.

When people have too much alcohol they get sick (and many of them vomit), they are not in full control of their minds and bodies, and they are not able to think clearly or to make good choices (especially about whether it is safe for them to drive).

Some people who have had too much to drink become angry and they can hurt other people, including people in their family.

Some people make very bad choices when they have too much to drink. Some feel really bad when they see photos or movies of themselves posted on Internet sites posted by their 'friends' or even by themselves.

drinking too much

Keeping yourself safe

You can do this by staying away from alcohol yourself.

Don't get sucked in to trying something which may harm you.

Learn how to say 'no' by:

  • saying 'I'm too young to be doing anything so unsafe'
  • being assertive and saying 'no - I don't drink alcohol'.
  • thinking of reasons like "I don't like the taste, or "I've got to go home/out/shopping now."
  • asking for a soft drink or saying that you are not thirsty
  • suggesting that you do something else like watch a movie, or go for a bike ride
  • calling a parent or carer to come and get you, or going home if you live nearby
  • never getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking.

It is important that you keep yourself safe from the effects of grown-ups' drinking.

  • Get away from someone who has drunk too much.
  • Stay close to an adult who you trust if there is alcohol around.
  • Get help if you feel in danger from someone who has drunk too much at home.

Did you know?

  • Alcohol is the second biggest cause of death from a drug in Australia? 
    [Q. Can you guess what drug causes the most deaths?]
    (the answer is at the end of this topic)
    road accident
  • Even people who have never had any alcohol can still die from its effects. I wonder if you can guess how that can happen.
  • Alcohol can cause damage to the brain, liver and stomach.
  • People can become alcohol-dependent because it is addictive.
  • Many car accidents involving young drivers are caused by alcohol and unfortunately many of the drivers and their passengers end up disabled or dead.
  • People can die from alcohol poisoning when they drink too much alcohol.

Dr Kim says:

Dr Kim"If someone close to you is drinking too much alcohol and making you feel unsafe, then talk to one of your trusted adults about it. Remember that your trusted adults may include mum, dad, grandparents, friends of the family, your teacher or student counsellor.

You have the right to feel safe at all times. Help to keep yourself safe by saying no to alcohol yourself and telling people how you feel when others are behaving in a frightening way because of alcohol use."

If you are worried you can ring the Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800


Alcohol's not really cool,
It can make you look a fool.
Alcohol can change your life,
Breaking up a man and wife.
Children hurt or even homeless,
Alcohol can make life hopeless.
When you grow up
You can choose
To stay drug-free
And away from 'booze'.

Answer: If you guessed that TOBACCO causes the most deaths then you would be right.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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