Street Names and Nicknames for Alcohol
What Are Common Terms for Alcohol?
Alcohol slang terms include juice, sauce, hooch, vino, and liquid courage. Risk factors for alcoholism include genetics, underage drinking, expectations, and motivations for drinking. Treatment for an addiction may consist of detox, talk therapy, medications to help with cravings and self-help groups, and can take place in traditional or luxury environments.
Alcohol is, by far, the most commonly used drug in the world.1 As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol is also one of the most widely abused mind-altering substances. Some statistics which demonstrate the extent of alcohol use and abuse include:
- In 2017 alone, nearly 52% of people aged 12 and older reported using alcohol in the past month alone, with 67 million people reporting binge drinking in the past month.1
- Over 88,000 people die from alcohol-related health problems every year.2
These facts don’t even take into account the damage caused by driving under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol impaired driving accounted for 29.3% of all driving fatalities in 2017.3 Alcohol’s consequences often extend beyond the user and into society.
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Other Names for Alcohol
Although many people call it by its given name or simply refer to specific types of alcohol, others get more creative when referencing alcoholic drinks. This may be because people either want a, familiar name for alcohol or they are intentionally obscuring the reference because they don’t want others around them to know they are drinking, or for a host of other reasons.
Many people have heard of the names “booze,” “brew,” and “cold one” to describe alcohol, specifically beer. Some other common street names and nicknames for alcohol include:4
- Hard stuff
- Liquid bread
- Oats soda
- Tummy buster
- Liquid courage
- 12 oz. curl
- Redneck wine
Many of these names have been around for years, while others are modern terms that are used in more limited circles. Some may have gotten their roots from other countries or old stories involving alcohol.
There are no doubt many other names that you can call a beer or other type of alcohol. Many groups or cliques, especially fraternities and college-based clubs, have their own special or unique names. In addition, other countries and regions may have name variations based on the popular types of alcohol served there.
Talking to children about alcohol use and knowing the warning signs of early alcohol use can help prevent life-long problems. Early alcohol use is associated with increased risk of alcohol dependence by early adulthood, as well as increased risk of alcohol dependence over an individual’s lifetime.5 In addition, alcohol use can affect school performance and social function and lead to risky or even illegal behavior, including drunk driving, crime, and sexual activity.6
Because of the large percentage of the population engaging in alcohol use, children have relatively easy access to alcohol.6 Hopefully by knowing the different names for alcohol, parents can find out if their children are drinking alcohol and, if so, learn ways to talk to them about alcohol use.
Who’s at Risk for Alcohol Addiction
Many different factors affect a person’s risk for developing alcoholism—from genetics to simply drinking frequently and excessively. Many experts believe that our genetic makeup is the main contributing factor in the development of alcohol dependency, determining that genetics comprise 50 to 60 percent of the risk for development of alcohol use disorders.7 The development of any form of compulsive substance use is complex, and while genetics are clearly an important set of variables, numerous factors can contribute to a person developing an alcohol addiction:
- Genetics. Certain genetic profiles may increase a person’s risk of developing alcoholism, but they don’t guarantee it. There are many environmental factors that also affect a person’s risk for alcohol abuse and dependence.
- Underage drinking. Research has shown that those who begin drinking at a younger age increase their risk of developing alcohol dependence.5
- Binge drinking. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is known as “binge drinking,” defined by government research to be five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within one episode.8 Binge drinking can cause damage to the brain and body. It can also speed the onset of physical dependence and tolerance. When these conditions develop, an individual’s system grows accustomed to higher amounts of alcohol intake, eventually requiring increasing amounts to experience the same effect or to avoid withdrawal. Binge drinking also affects the general health of an individual. Binge drinkers are more likely to report more sick days and experience poor health compared to non-binge drinkers.9
- Motivation. Why people choose to drink can influence their risk.10 Common reasons that may indicate an alcohol problem include stress reduction and mood enhancement, wherein a person is using alcohol to feel better rather than seeking positivity in non-substance sources.
- Expectations. If a person believes that drinking alcohol will provide them with positive social, emotional, or status changes, they are more likely to drink larger amounts and more often. Social relationships can also have an effect on drinking habits and expectations, as drinking in a group leads to a stronger experience of euphoria than drinking alone. Social settings can facilitate overconsumption of alcohol.10
While each of these factors contributes in its own way, the development of an alcohol problem is never the result of any singular one. All of these factors interact with each other to create a risk profile for an individual’s likelihood of developing alcoholism.11
Health Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol has many different effects on the brain and the body:
Brain. In the brain, alcohol slows cellular communication, resulting in very obvious behavioral effects, such as:13,14
- Slurred speech.
- Unsteady gait.
- Intense emotions or changes in mood.
- A blank, non-reactive stare or a total loss of consciousness. These can also be signs of potential alcohol poisoning.
Body. In addition to brain changes, alcohol can cause other bodily damage, including:14,15
- Damage to the heart muscle and other chronic cardiac problems.
- High blood pressure.
- Gastrointestinal tract inflammation and ulceration.
- Liver damage.
- Immune system suppression.
- Alcohol is also a known risk factor for cancer, including throat, esophagus, mouth, liver, and breast cancer.
Alcohol is also dangerous because it reduces a person’s appetite and often replaces healthful caloric intake, leading to a malnourished diet that can give way to even worse problems, including Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, in which a person suffers from extreme dementia due to long-term alcohol abuse.13,14
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction can involve the following treatment aspects:
- Detox. Alcohol addiction treatment must start off with medically-supervised detox. Withdrawal from alcohol can cause life-threatening seizures, so professional medical supervision is necessary in the beginning stages of withdrawal until a patient has stabilized and worsened withdrawal is not a threat.15
- Talk therapy. Once the body is cleared of all alcohol and its short-term effects, talk therapy (psychotherapy) and counseling can begin. Behavioral therapies that target the key contributors toward drinking behavior and help the person understand why he or she was abusing alcohol can make a huge difference in a person’s life. The main goals of these therapies is to help patients understand their motivations for drinking and to help them find their own motivations for sobriety.16
- Medications. These can be prescribed by a doctor to help with alcohol abstinence maintenance. Naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate are all currently used to help with alcohol abuse recovery,17 but particularly positive results can come from a combination of medications and psychotherapy.
- Self-help groups. Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and SMART Recovery can also provide free aftercare support once a person leaves a formal alcohol addiction treatment program. These organizations provide a network of sobriety support that encourages long-term abstinence.
Traditional Vs. Luxury Alcohol Treatment
Alcohol addiction treatment can begin with a host of uncomfortable side effects. Withdrawal from alcohol is notoriously dangerous and unpleasant. The course of recovery can be complicated by persistent cravings throughout the treatment process. Working toward recovery in a facility that is catered toward comfort may help some people stay focused on their path to sobriety.
When it comes to alcohol abuse recovery in particular, the discomfort of the initial withdrawal and craving period may be alleviated by having numerous affirming and enjoyable activities, which can both reinforce a sense of self-worth and help reduce cravings for alcohol. The amenities provided by luxury addiction programs may help a person find other meaningful engagements as they adjust to a sober lifestyle.
Luxury and executive treatment programs focus on privacy and comfort and provide a range of activities and amenities for those in treatment. They may offer the best course for recovery for those who prefer access to premier amenities or for those who need to maintain a degree of professional presence while in recovery. These programs come at a higher price, however, so be sure to consider cost when deciding between a standard and a luxury program.
While potentially beneficial, luxury treatment programs aren’t for everyone. A traditional treatment facility is still often able to provide people recovering from alcohol abuse and addiction with comfort and a safe, solid recovery course.
Outpatient treatment allows the flexibility of fulfilling daily-life obligations while getting treatment. A person in alcohol addiction treatment can continue to live at home and have access to medical care and therapy at fixed times during the week.
Inpatient addiction facilities offer specialized care and a place for the person to stay, which can be beneficial because it lacks certain triggers than can exacerbate alcohol craving. Some of these facilities also offer around-the-clock medical supervision for alcohol detox. Inpatient facilities are well-suited if a person has been through previous attempts at detox or outpatient treatment hasn’t worked.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Alcohol and public health: Alcohol-related disease impact.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2018). 2017 motor vehicle crashes: Overview.
- Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. (2018). Alcohol.
- Hingson R.W., Heeren T., Winter M.R. Age at Drinking Onset and Alcohol Dependence: Age at Onset, Duration, and Severity. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006;160(7):739–746.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2009). Make a difference: talk to your child about alcohol.
- Foroud, T., Edenberg, H. J., & Crabbe, J. C. (2010). Genetic research: Who is at risk for alcoholism? Alcohol Research and Health. 33 (1, 2). Pp. 64-75.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2018). National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2017 (NSDUH-2017-DS0001).
- Østby KA, Czajkowski N, Knudsen GP, et al. Does low alcohol use increase the risk of sickness absence? A discordant twin study. BMC Public Health. 2016;16(1):825.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Psychosocial factors in alcohol use and alcoholism.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2012). A family history of alcoholism: Are you at risk?
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2010). Beyond hangovers: Understanding alcohol’s impact on your health.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2004). Alcohol’s Damaging Effects on the Brain.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2015). Alcohol.
- Witkiewitz, K, and Marlatt, A. (2011). Behavioral therapy across the spectrum. Alcohol Research & Health 33(4):313–319.
- O’Malley, S.S., and O’Connor, P.G. (2011). Medications for unhealthy alcohol use: Across the spectrum. Alcohol Research & Health 33(4):300–312.