The reason whether alcohol is a drug can be a confusing question is mainly because of sociological or linguistic associations, meaning ordinary uses of the word “drug” typically do not include alcohol. Today drug has become a sort of slang for street drug; so identifying a drug dealer wouldn’t be the owner of a bar, someone who drinks socially is not commonly described as a drug user. The new slang has grown in reference to the difference between illicit or illegal drugs and what is sanctioned by the government and health department.
People still go to the “drug store” for medications, so understanding the nature of what is medically considered a drug can become obscured by the language uses and social meanings. A drug is defined as any substance which when absorbed into a living organism may modify one or more of its functions.
Ethanol is the intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. It is a depressant of the central nervous system absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in lowering cognitive and physical capacities, which is why it is commonly known to affect judgment and motor skills.
Mark Kleiman writes in reference to the question if alcohol is a drug: “To a pharmacologist, that question is a little bit like “Is water a liquid?” Alcohol is not just a drug, but the archetypal drug.”
Alcohol is a drug because it is a chemical that interferes with body functions resulting in behavioral, psychological and physical changes. Alcohol is the most widely used drug- more than tobacco or illicit drugs; and causes the most addiction, disease, and violence. By not being illicit in nature, alcohol has become a very socially acceptable substance to use, but recognizing it as an addictive substance helps frame the overall effects and consequences of abusing it.