An alcoholic drink is a drink that contains ethanol, a type of alcohol produced by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar that acts as a drug. The consumption of alcohol plays an important social role in many cultures. Most countries have laws regulating the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Regulations may require the labeling of the percentage alcohol content (as ABV or proof) and the use of a warning label. And some countries ban such activities entirely, but alcoholic drinks are legal in most parts of the world. The global alcoholic drink industry exceeded $1 trillion in 2018.
Alcohol is a depressant, which in low doses causes euphoria, reduces anxiety, and increases sociability. In higher doses, it causes drunkenness, stupor, unconsciousness or death. Long-term use can lead to an alcohol use disorder, an increased risk of developing several types of cancer, and physical dependence.
Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world, and about 33% of all humans currently drink alcohol. In 2015, among Americans, 86% of adults had consumed alcohol at some point, with 70% drinking it in the last year and 56% in the last month. Alcoholic drinks are typically divided into three classes—beers, wines, and spirits—and typically their alcohol content is between 3% and 50%.
Discovery of late Stone Age jugs suggest that intentionally fermented drinks existed at least as early as the Neolithic period (c. 10,000 BC). Several animals (but not all) are affected by alcohol similarly to humans and, once they consume it, will consume it again if given the opportunity, though humans are the only species known to produce alcoholic drinks intentionally.