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Lesson 14

Title: What Does Alcohol do to the Body?

Grade: Fourth or Fifth
Time: 50-60 minutes

Learning Outcomes:

  1. The student will examine short term and long term physical effects of alcohol on the body.
  2. The student will identify organs of the body affected by the use of alcohol and the effects on those organs.


  1. Introduce the lesson by giving some of the following facts about alcohol use:
    1. Alcohol use is the number one drug problem among young people.
    2. Alcohol is a depressant.
    3. Eight young people a day die in alcohol-related crashes.
    4. Students spend $5.5 billion in alcohol each year.
    5. Poor grades are correlated with alcohol use.
    6. The effects of alcohol may appear within 10 minutes.
    7. 2.6 million teenagers don't know that a person can die from alcohol overdose.
  2. After this introduction ask the students what they think are some things that might happen to your body when you consume alcohol. List their responses on the board, overhead, etc. Add the following if they are not mentioned by the students: bad breath, staggering, distorted hearing and/or vision, dizziness, slurred speech, double vision, unconsciousness, hangover ( headache, nausea, shakiness, vomiting), blood vessels are dilated, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure.
  3. Next ask the students what they think the long term effects of alcohol use may have on the organs of the body. Possibilities include:
    1. Brain: alcohol gets to the brain in a matter of minutes, it slows down the brain's ability to control the body's nervous system
      • it impairs memory, damages cells
      • there is a loss of fine motor coordination ( slower reaction times)
      • alcohol blocks messages going to the brain and alters perceptions, emotions, vision, hearing and coordination
      • may also cause nervous system diseases
    2. esophagus: alcohol can cause cancer of the esophagus
      • The blood vessels in the esophagus can rupture and bleed
    3. Stomach: alcohol may cause inflammation and irritation
      affects motor functions of the stomach, causes heartburn, and gastritis may lead to malnutrition, bleeding, and tearing of the stomach lining
    4. Intestines: alcohol causes poor absorption of nutrients
      can cause diarrhea, cause nutritional deficiencies such as vitamins A and C can cause cancer of digestive tracts
    5. Liver: alcohol can cause an excess of fats in the liver
      • damage to the liver - kills cells
      • cirrhosis of the liver-hardening
      • alcohol hepatitis- inflammation of the liver
      • cancer of the liver
      • enlargement of the liver
    6. Heart and Circulatory System:
      • weakening of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
      • chest pains, fatigue, high blood pressure
      • strokes, increased cholesterol, and increased workload on the heart
    7. Mouth and tongue:
      • cancer of the mouth and throat
      • inflammation of the tongue
    8. Pancreas: inflammation of the pancreas; can lead to diabetes
    9. Skin: reddening of the skin, heat loss, capillaries may be broken
    10. Lungs:
      • infections, pneumonia
      • may suffocate if vomits in his/her sleep
      • aggravates other lung diseases
    11. Bones:
      • thinning, weakening of the bones
      • inflammation of joints
    12. Kidneys: inflammation, retention of fluids causing swelling of other body parts may lead to kidney failure
    13. Bladder: infections
    14. Eyes: may produce problems in the optic nerve and in rare cases progress to blindness


After the long term and short term effects have been discussed divide the class into cooperative groups. Provide each group with a large sheet of butcher paper, copies of the short and long term effects, markers, rulers, and a book with the organs of the human body (Health book, Science book, encyclopedia, etc.). The students will trace the shape of a body ( one of the other students) on the butcher paper. Using the facts presented in class, the students will locate the various organs affected by alcohol and draw them on the butcher paper. In addition they will also draw lines and label effects of alcohol on those organs. Each group will then present their poster to the class and the facts that they labeled.  (this may take more than one class).


  • butcher paper
  • markers or crayons
  • rulers
  • book with pictures of the body's organs
  • list of alcohol facts presented in the lesson.


This will be done by observing the group presentations. Grades may be given on presentation, drawing and labeling, and correctness of the information.

Internet Resources:

http://www.ask.com type the question: What does alcohol do to the body? It will give lots of information.

NCADD Youth Information