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The Effect of Alcohol on the Body

In this worksheet, students will look at the effect that alcohol can have on the body and the potential damage it can cause.

'The Effect of Alcohol on the Body' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Biology: Structure and Function of Living Organisms

Curriculum subtopic:  Health

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

 

Alcohol is so common that we don’t often think about it as a drug, but it is.  A drug is simply a chemical that can affect the way your body works, and alcohol most certainly does that.   

 

What type of drug is alcohol?

There are many different types of drugs which will affect your body in different ways.  Alcohol is classed as a depressant, as it slows down the messages to your brain and nerves.  

 

So, what does alcohol do to the body?

Your body can only process one unit of alcohol an hour. Drinking a lot of alcohol in a short space of time can stop the body from working properly.

High levels of alcohol in your blood can:

  • slow down brain functions such as thinking, decision making and muscular activity
  • affect your sense of balance
  • irritate the stomach causing vomiting
  • lower the body’s temperature, which can lead to hypothermia
  • cause dehydration, which could lead to permanent brain damage
  • affect the nerves that control your breathing and heartbeat, it can stop both

 

What is a Hangover?

 

Man with hangover

 

Splitting headaches, sickness, dizziness, dehydration.... a hangover is the unpleasant experience the morning after the night before.

Many people experience a hangover if they have consumed too much alcohol, as it is a diuretic (meaning it removes fluids from the body). Drinking excessively can lead to dehydration, and most of the symptoms of a hangover are simply due to your body being dehydrated.

 

What are the long term effects of alcohol?

The effects of a hangover are short-lived and usually only last for about a day.  However, this does not mean that the alcohol has not affected the parts of your body that you can’t see.

 

  • The liver – drinking alcohol damages the liver and can lead to cirrhosis of the liver (permanent loss of liver function).
  • Brain development – the areas of the brain responsible for behaviour, emotions, reasoning and judgement are still developing throughout childhood and into the teenage years. Drinking during this time can have a long-term impact on memory, reactions and attention span.
  • Weight - alcohol can lead to weight gain due to the calorie content of commercial alcoholic drinks. 
  • Fertility – it is recommended that alcohol is avoided if a couple are trying to conceive a baby.

Alcohol can also increase the risk of developing cancers such as liver, bowel, breast and mouth cancer. Fact: Every year, alcohol causes around 4% of cancer cases in the UK, which is approximately 12,500 cases.

 

Safe Alcohol Levels
 

The level of alcohol in different drinks in measures in units:

 

Beer  Pint of beer or larger = 2 units
Alcopop bottle  Alcopop = 1 unit
Glass of wine  One standard glass of wine = 2 units
Glass of whisky  Spirit (vodka, gin, whiskey etc...) = 1 unit

 

The liver breaks down alcohol in the body at a rate of one unit per hour. The government have set out guidelines for men and women indicating safe levels of alcohol consumption.  
 
As binge drinking is increasingly becoming a problem in the UK, they recommend that men do not regularly exceed 3-4 units a day and that women do not regularly exceed 2-3 units a day.

 

We will now look at some questions based on how alcohol affects the human body.

Which of the following statements is true about a drug?

All drugs are illegal

A drug is something that affects the way the body works

All drugs make you sick

Alcohol is not a drug

What type of drug is alcohol?

stimulant

depressant

illegal

medical

Class each of the following effects of alcohol consumption as either short-term or long-term effects.

 Short TermLong Term
Vomiting
Dehydration
Liver disease
Loss of Balance
Weight Gain
Blurred Vision
Fertility Problems
Lowered Body Temperature

In the answer box below, write the word which completes this sentence:

 

The main cause of a hangover is _______________.

How many units of alcohol can your body process in one hour?

1

2

3

4

Which organ in your body is responsible for breaking down alcohol? 

heart

small intestine

stomach

liver

How many units of alcohol are in the following drinks?

 1234
Pint of Beer
Shot of Whisky
Alcopop
Glass of wine
Shot of vodka
Shot of vodka + a glass of wine

A man drinks four pints of lager and two glasses of whisky.

 

How many units of alcohol did he drink?

6 units

8 units

10 units

12 units

A woman drank three glasses of wine and one alcopop.

 

How long would it take for her body to break down all the alcohol she has drunk?

5 hours

6 hours

7 hours

8 hours

The government publishes guidelines on the recommended maximum units of alcohol that can be drunk in one day.

 

The units of alcohol can be calculated using the formula:

 

 

Use this formula to calculate the units of alcohol in a 175 cm3 glass of wine which contains 12% alcohol.

1.2 units

2.1 units

2.7 units

  • Question 1

Which of the following statements is true about a drug?

CORRECT ANSWER
A drug is something that affects the way the body works
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully that was OK - there's lots to learn about drugs including that the term 'drugs' covers a wide range of substances, including prescription drugs, so they're definitely not all illegal. However, drugs do have a variety of effects upon our bodies, which is one of the main reasons you need to learn about them - it is truly life-learning!
  • Question 2

What type of drug is alcohol?

CORRECT ANSWER
depressant
EDDIE SAYS
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that is slows down brain and nerve functions.
  • Question 3

Class each of the following effects of alcohol consumption as either short-term or long-term effects.

CORRECT ANSWER
 Short TermLong Term
Vomiting
Dehydration
Liver disease
Loss of Balance
Weight Gain
Blurred Vision
Fertility Problems
Lowered Body Temperature
EDDIE SAYS
Vomiting, dehydration, loss of balance, blurred vision and lowered body temperature are all short-term effects, as they will stop when the alcohol has worn off, or when the body has become hydrated again. However, liver disease, weight gain and fertility problems are all long-term effects, and will not wear off as soon as the alcohol is out of the system.
  • Question 4

In the answer box below, write the word which completes this sentence:

 

The main cause of a hangover is _______________.

CORRECT ANSWER
dehydration
EDDIE SAYS
The main cause of a hangover is dehydration. Many of the symptoms of a hangover are the same as those of dehydration.
  • Question 5

How many units of alcohol can your body process in one hour?

CORRECT ANSWER
1
EDDIE SAYS
Your body can only break down one unit of alcohol per hour.
  • Question 6

Which organ in your body is responsible for breaking down alcohol? 

CORRECT ANSWER
liver
EDDIE SAYS
Your liver is the organ that breaks down alcohol. It is changed into another chemical, acetate, which is then converted to carbon dioxide to be released from the body.
  • Question 7

How many units of alcohol are in the following drinks?

CORRECT ANSWER
 1234
Pint of Beer
Shot of Whisky
Alcopop
Glass of wine
Shot of vodka
Shot of vodka + a glass of wine
EDDIE SAYS
It's so hard remembering how much is in every drink and how much is OK to drink before it starts having undesirable effects upon the body. It's probably useful to remember that both a pint of beer and a glass of wine are 2 unit drinks.
  • Question 8

A man drinks four pints of lager and two glasses of whisky.

 

How many units of alcohol did he drink?

CORRECT ANSWER
10 units
EDDIE SAYS
A pint contains 2 units and a shot of spirit such as whisky contains 1 unit.
(4 x 2 units) + ( 2 x 1 unit) = 10 units
  • Question 9

A woman drank three glasses of wine and one alcopop.

 

How long would it take for her body to break down all the alcohol she has drunk?

CORRECT ANSWER
7 hours
EDDIE SAYS
Your liver can break down alcohol at a rate of 1 unit per hour. A standard glass of wine contains 2 units and an alcopop contains 1 unit.
( 3 x 2 units) + (1 x 1 unit) = 7 units, so it would take 7 hours.
  • Question 10

The government publishes guidelines on the recommended maximum units of alcohol that can be drunk in one day.

 

The units of alcohol can be calculated using the formula:

 

 

Use this formula to calculate the units of alcohol in a 175 cm3 glass of wine which contains 12% alcohol.

CORRECT ANSWER
2.1 units
EDDIE SAYS
Units of alcohol = (175 x 12)/1000 = 2.1 units
---- OR ----

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