|Alcohol is the oldest drug that is used in Western countries.
|For thousands of years, people have made alcoholic beverages.
|These beverages are made by allowing a process called fermentation to occur.
|Alcoholic fermentation happens when yeasts or bacteria break down the sugars that occur in some liquids,
|and convert some sugars into alcohol.
|Many liquids, such as fruit juices, can ferment.
|Thousands of years ago, alcoholic drinks were common in the Middle East.
|However, the Islamic religion forbids alcohol,
|so very little alcohol is consumed in this part of the world.
|In European countries, and in other parts of the world,
|many different kinds of alcoholic beverages are produced and consumed.
|In warmer areas of Europe, people make wine by allowing grape juice to ferment.
|In cooler areas of Europe, people make beer by fermenting liquids
|made from water and various grains.
|The process of fermentation is also used to make stronger drinks known as “spirits”.
|These drinks include vodka, whiskey, and rum.
|The techniques for making good wine, beer, and spirits
|have been developed over hundreds of years, and require scientific precision.
|Some people have developed a great appreciation for well-made wine, beer, or spirits,
|and have become experts about the many different varieties of these beverages.
|Many people appreciate the taste of alcoholic beverages,
|but many also enjoy the feelings that alcohol causes.
|Alcohol belongs to a category of drugs called “depressants”
|because it “depresses” the central nervous system,
|causing a person to feel less inhibited or restrained.
|Many people enjoy this feeling, but when a person drinks a lot of alcohol,
|he or she loses co-ordination, balance, and judgment.
|Speech may become unclear, and the person may speak too much.
|Some people become aggressive or depressed.
|When a person is under the influence of alcohol, the person is said to be drunk.
|One of the problems that can result from alcohol consumption is known as “drunk driving”.
|Some people try to drive a car after having consumed alcohol, but this is extremely dangerous.
|Each year, thousands of people are killed by drunk drivers who lose control of their cars.
|In recent years, attempts have been made to reduce this problem,
|by public education campaigns and by strict laws and punishments.
|If you drink, don’t drive!
|Another problem associated with alcohol is addiction, and it’s known as alcoholism.
|Some people drink so frequently that they develop a psychological addiction to alcohol.
|This problem can have terrible consequences for a person’s health, personal relationships, and career.
|Alcoholic beverages are firmly a part of Western culture, and of many other cultures also.
|On one hand, drinks provide many people with much enjoyment and appreciation.
|On the other hand, alcohol is a drug that can be abused, leading to accidents and addiction.