Alcohol (drug)

Symptoms of varying BAC levels. Additional symptoms may occur.
A 2010 study ranking various illegal and legal drugs based on statements by drug-harm experts. Alcohol was found to be the overall most dangerous drug, and the only drug that mostly damaged others.
Addiction experts in psychiatry, chemistry, pharmacology, forensic science, epidemiology, and the police and legal services engaged in delphic analysis regarding 20 popular recreational substances. Alcohol was ranked 6th in dependence, 11th in physical harm, and 2nd in social harm.
Diagram of mucosal layer

Psychoactive drug that is the active ingredient in drinks such as beer, wine, and distilled spirits .

- Alcohol (drug)

500 related topics


Alcohol (chemistry)

About the class of chemical compounds.

Ball-and-stick model of an alcohol molecule (R3COH). The red and white balls represent the hydroxyl group (-OH). The three "R's" stand for carbon substituents or hydrogen atoms.
The bond angle between a hydroxyl group (-OH) and a chain of carbon atoms (R)
Total recorded alcohol per capita consumption (15+), in litres of pure ethanol
Some simple conversions of alcohols to alkyl chlorides
Acidity & basicity of methanol
Preparation of crystal violet by protonolysis of the tertiary alcohol.
Mechanism of oxidation of primary alcohols to carboxylic acids via aldehydes and aldehyde hydrates

The term alcohol originally referred to the primary alcohol ethanol (ethyl alcohol), which is used as a drug and is the main alcohol present in alcoholic drinks.


A French temperance organisation poster depicting the effects of alcoholism in a family, c. 1915
Some of the possible long-term effects of ethanol an individual may develop. Additionally, in pregnant women, alcohol can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
"The bottle has done its work". Reproduction of an etching by G. Cruikshank, 1847.
Mental health as a risk factor for alcohol dependency or abuse.
William Hogarth's Gin Lane, 1751
A man drinking from a bottle of liquor while sitting on a boardwalk, ca. 1905–1914. Picture by Austrian photographer Emil Mayer.
A regional service center for Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcohol consumption per person 2016.
Adriaen Brouwer, Inn with Drunken Peasants, 1620s
1904 advertisement describing alcoholism as a disease.

Alcoholism is, broadly, any drinking of alcohol that results in significant mental or physical health problems.


Drug that lowers neurotransmission levels, which is to depress or reduce arousal or stimulation, in various areas of the brain.

Distilled (concentrated) alcoholic beverages, sometimes called “spirit” or "hard liquor", roughly eight times more alcoholic than beer
Xanax (alprazolam) 2 mg tri-score tablets

Alcohol is a very prominent depressant.


State in which a living individual exhibits a complete, or near-complete, inability to maintain an awareness of self and environment or to respond to any human or environmental stimulus.

Jean-Martin Charcot demonstrating hypnosis on a "hysterical" Salpêtrière patient, "Blanche" (Marie Wittman), who is supported by Joseph Babiński.
Person passed out on a sidewalk in New York City, 2008

Unconsciousness may occur as the result of traumatic brain injury, brain hypoxia (inadequate oxygen, possibly due to a brain infarction or cardiac arrest), severe intoxication with drugs that depress the activity of the central nervous system (e.g., alcohol and other hypnotic or sedative drugs), severe fatigue, pain, anaesthesia, and other causes.

Drunk driving

Field sobriety test
An ignition interlock device (red arrow) in a Scania bus
US poster from 1994 with the message that "drinking and driving don't mix"

Drunk driving (or drink-driving in British English ) is the act of driving under the influence of alcohol.


Organic chemical compound with the formula CH3CHO, sometimes abbreviated by chemists as MeCHO (Me = methyl).

Tautomeric equilibrium between acetaldehyde and vinyl alcohol.
Conversion of acetaldehyde to 1,1-diethoxyethane, R1 = CH3, R2 = CH3CH2
Production of Acetaldehyde

It is also produced by the partial oxidation of ethanol by the liver enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase and is a contributing cause of hangover after alcohol consumption.

Alcoholic drink

A selection of alcoholic drinks: red wine, malt whisky, lager, sparkling wine, lager, cherry liqueur and red wine
A liquor store in the United States. Global sales of alcoholic drinks exceeded $1 trillion in 2018.
Wine (left) and beer (right) are served in different glasses.
Alcohol consumption per person in 2016. Consumption of alcohol is measured in liters of pure alcohol per person aged 15 or older.
Reduction of red wine for a sauce by cooking it on a stovetop. It is called a reduction because the heat boils off some of the water and most of the more volatile alcohol, leaving a more concentrated, wine-flavoured sauce.
A "standard drink" of hard liquor does not necessarily reflect a typical serving size, such as seen here
Members of a German Student Corps (Duchy of Brunswick) shown drinking in a picture from 1837.
Age-standardised prevalence of current drinking for females (A) and males (B) in 2016, in 195 locations.
Average standard drinks (10 g of pure ethanol per serving) consumed per day, age-standardised, for females (A) and males (B) in 2016, in 195 locations.

An alcoholic drink (also called an alcoholic beverage, adult beverage, or simply a drink) is a drink that contains ethanol, a type of alcohol produced by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar that acts as a drug.

Alcohol intoxication

The Drunkenness of Noah by Michelangelo, 1509
Wine is a Mocker by Jan Steen c. 1663
Stage Three of the Five stages of inebriation, ca.1863–1868, by Charles Percy Pickering
Ethanol binding to GABAA receptor
A 1936 anti-drinking poster by Aart van Dobbenburgh.
A drunk-driving simulator in Montreal.
Drunkenness of Noah by Giovanni Bellini
Drunken Lot and his daughters, from an illustrated Torah

Alcohol intoxication, also known as alcohol poisoning, commonly described as drunkenness or inebriation, is the negative behavior and physical effects caused by a recent consumption of alcohol.


Experience of pleasure or excitement and intense feelings of well-being and happiness.

Playing can induce an intense state of happiness and contentment, like this young girl playing in the snow.
A large dose of methamphetamine causes a drug-induced euphoria.

Certain depressants can produce euphoria; some of the euphoriant drugs in this class include alcohol in moderate doses, γ-hydroxybutyric acid, and ketamine.


Alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruits, vegetables, or sugar, that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation.

An old whiskey still
A display of various liquors in a supermarket
Some single-drink liquor bottles available in Germany
Koskenkorva, a Finnish vodka drink
Viru Valge, an Estonian vodka
Distillation equipment used by the 3rd century alchemist Zosimos of Panopolis, from the Byzantine Greek manuscript Parisinus graecus 2327.
An illustration of brewing and distilling industry methods in England, 1858
These flaming cocktails illustrate that some liquors will readily catch fire and burn.
A row of alcoholic beverages – in this case, spirits – in a bar
Map of Europe with individual countries grouped into three regions by dominant patterns of alcohol consumption and traditionally preferred types of alcoholic drinkBoth Denmark and Slovakia are categorized either as beer-drinking countries or as spirit-drinking countries.

As liquors contain significantly more alcohol (ethanol) than other alcoholic drinks, they are considered "harder" – in North America, the term hard liquor is sometimes used to distinguish distilled alcoholic drinks from non-distilled ones, whereas the term spirits is used in the UK.