Alcoholic beverages are consumed in almost every sovereign state, and most have laws that regulate their production, sale, and consumption. In particular, such laws specify the minimum age at which a person may legally buy or drink alcoholic beverages. This minimum age can be as low as 16 years in some nations, however most nations set the minimum age at 18 years.
The production and consumption of alcohol occurs nowadays in most cultures of the world, from hunter-gatherer peoples to nation-states. Alcoholic beverages are often an important part of social events in these cultures. In many cultures, drinking plays a significant role in social interaction — mainly because of alcohol’s neurological effects.
Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that has a depressant effect. A high blood alcohol content is usually considered to be legal drunkenness because it reduces attention and slows reaction speed. Alcoholic beverages can be addictive, and the state of addiction to alcohol is known as alcoholism.