Alcohol is a depressant which in low doses causes euphoria, reduced anxiety, and sociability and in higher doses causes drunkenness, stupor, unconsciousness, or death. Long-term use can lead to alcohol abuse, physical dependence, and alcoholism. Alcohol is one of the most widely used recreational drugs in the world. For instance, in 2015, among Americans, 89% of adults had consumed alcohol at some point, 70% had drunk 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 contain between 3% and 50% of alcohol content.
Discovery of late Stone Age jugs suggest that intentionally fermented drinks existed at least as early as the Neolithic period (cir. 10,000 BC). Many animals also consume alcohol when given the opportunity and are affected in much the same way as humans, although humans are the only species known to produce alcoholic drinks intentionally.
Beer is a beverage fermented from grain mash. It is typically made from barley or a blend of several grains and flavored with hops. Most beer is naturally carbonated as part of the fermentation process. If the fermented mash is distilled, then the drink becomes a spirit. In the Andean region, the most common beer is chicha, made from grain or fruits. Beer is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the world.
Cider or cyder (// SY-dər) is a fermented alcoholic drink made from any fruit juice; apple juice (traditional and most common), peaches, pears ("Perry" cider) or other fruit. Cider alcohol content varies from 1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, cider may be called "apple wine".
Mead (//) is an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops. The alcoholic content of mead may range from about 8% ABV to more than 20%. The defining characteristic of mead is that the majority of the drink's fermentable sugar is derived from honey.