Hundreds of slang terms are used around the world to describe alcohol and its inebriating effects on people. While some are incredibly common, others are less so and may leave you at a loss for what your teenager, partner, or friends are talking about. Below, you’ll find a common list of terms related to drinking and intoxication.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 86% of all people above the age of 18 have had a drink at some point in their lives, with more than 65% of that same group reporting drinking within the month prior to surveying.1 As a substance that has been around for centuries and that is so commonly consumed, alcohol is associated with a robust list of slang terms and colloquialisms.
The following list is a sample of terms used to reference alcohol:
- Liquid courage
- Giggle juice
- Giggle water
- Nightcap (a drink before bed)
- Shooter (a shot)
- Rotgut (poor quality or toxic liquor)
- Brewski (beer)
- Suds (beer)
- Cold one (beer)
- Half-rack (12-pack of beer)
- Sixer (6-pack of beer)
- Bubbly (champagne)
- Champers (champagne)
Mixed drinks contain one or more types of alcohol and generally contain some additional, non-alcohol ingredient for added flavor or color, such as juice or soda. Slang terms and synonyms for mixed drinks include:
- Adult beverage
- Sling (cocktail without bitters)
- Highball (a mixed drink in a tall glass)
- One and one (one liquor + one mixer, e.g., rum and cola)
- Adult punch
- Jungle juice
- Hunch punch
Alcohol Mixed with Other Drugs
Mixing alcohol and other intoxicating substances can be a dangerous game, but many people partake in the activity, nonetheless. Alcohol may be consumed in an attempt to enhance or prolong the effects of some drugs; however, in some cases, doing so can result in potentially severe side effects, such as slowed breathing, decreased heart rate, and even death.
A few slang terms for alcoholic drinks mixed with other substances include:
- Drug cocktail
- Time flip: alcohol + benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax)
- Herb and Al: Alcohol + weed
- Snow-coning: Alcohol + cocaine
- Tipsy flip: Alcohol + ecstasy
- Getting crunk: Alcohol + weed
- Robo-fizzing: alcohol + cold medicine
- Brompton cocktail: Alcohol + an opioid + cocaine
Just as there are slang terms for alcohol and alcoholic beverages, there are many slang terms for being intoxicated/drunk.
Slang terms for drunkenness have evolved throughout history, but many current slang terms are listed below.
- Three sheets to the wind
- Basted (high and drunk at the same time)
Statistics on Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Statistics from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that:2
- Approximately 25% of all people age 12 and older were current binge drinkers (i.e., had reported at least one episode of binge drinking in the past month).
- 3 million adolescents (ages 12-17) reported past-month binge drinking.
- Young adults between 18 and 25 were current heavy drinkers, with “heavy drinking” defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in a 30-day period.
- Underage alcohol use was widespread, with 7.4 million individuals between 12 and 20 reporting past-month alcohol use and 4.5 million of those binge drinking.
- 5 million people 12 and older had an alcohol use disorder in 2017 (approximately 5% of all people in that broad demographic).
- 1.8% of adolescents had a past-year alcohol use disorder in 2017.
Recognizing Alcohol Abuse
As previously established, alcohol abuse is a common occurrence in the United States as well as around the world. With continued alcohol abuse, anyone can develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD), though some people are at a higher risk for it than others. Risk factors for developing an AUD include:3
- Easy access to alcohol.
- High stress levels.
- Peer alcohol use.
- Exaggeration of the benefits of alcohol.
- Poor coping skills.
- Having a close relative with an AUD, especially a parent.
- Low sensitivity to alcohol.
- Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Alcohol use is so common that it may be difficult to know if your loved one has a problem. The diagnostic criteria used by mental health professionals to determine whether a person has an alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism, include:3
- Drinking more or for longer than intended.
- Unsuccessful attempts at cutting back or stopping altogether.
- Spending an inordinate amount of time in obtaining and drinking alcohol.
- Craving alcohol.
- Failing to attend to major obligations at work, school, or home due to drinking.
- Continued alcohol use despite ongoing social or interpersonal problems caused by drinking.
- Giving up or avoiding social, recreational or occupational activities due to drinking.
- Continuing to drink knowing that it is causing harm to your physical or mental health.
- Using alcohol before engaging in activities where being intoxicated could be hazardous, such as driving.
- Needing more and more alcohol to feel the effects (tolerance).
- Needing alcohol to avoid withdrawal (dependence).
Many people are able to consume alcohol in moderation on regular basis and never develop any kind of alcohol use disorder. Others, however, develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that can impact many aspects of their lives. Work, school, relationships and responsibilities may all be neglected for the sake of consuming alcohol.
If you are struggling with an alcohol use disorder, the good news is there are many resources available to seek treatment and get help. There are many forms of treatment available, such as individual and group therapy, community support groups, life skills training, and alcohol education. A mix of all these services is likely to provide the most effective treatment and may be part of many inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.
To get you started on your treatment journey, NIAAA provides a list of resources of addiction specialists, support groups, and organizations that provide information about alcohol and drug abuse, mental health, and seeking treatment.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also provides an online treatment services locator for people seeking help with substance abuse, addiction, and/or mental health problems.
Alcoholism can easily destroy your health and wreak havoc on your finances, your relationships, and many other areas of your life. If you need help, don’t wait. There is more for you than a life that revolves around alcohol.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2018). Alcohol Facts and Statistics.
- 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 (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.)