It’s never too early to talk with your children about the risks of underage drinking and other drug use. Research suggests that one of the most influential factors for children is a strong, open relationship with a parent. Though it may not seem like it, children really hear your concerns, and it’s important that you discuss the risks of using alcohol and other drugs with them. This white paper explores the effects of alcohol abuse on adolescents, their brains, related risks, and ways parents can help reduce usage and promote healthy behaviors.
Alcohol is a drug. It has a more drastic effect on children and teens than on adults because the brain continues to develop until about age 25. As children grow older, the brain develops unevenly. The parts of the brain in charge of coordination, emotion and motivation develop quicker than the parts that control reasoning and impulse. That is why teens seem to respond emotionally much more often than adults. It’s also why they’re more prone to risk-taking behavior. In addition, a developing brain is more easily damaged than a fully matured brain.
When teens drink, alcohol affects their brains in the short-term, and repeated drinking can also have an impact on the brain down the road, especially as it grows and develops.
Short-Term Consequences of Intoxication (being “drunk”):
- An intoxicated person has a harder time making good decisions.
- They have impaired motor coordination.
- They are less aware that his/her behavior may be inappropriate or unsafe.
- They have a greater risk of being injured from falls or vehicle crashes.
- They may be more likely to engage in unsafe behavior, including drinking and driving,unsafe sexual behavior (like unprotected sex) and aggressive or violent behavior.
- They are less likely to recognize potential danger.Long-Term Consequences as the Teen Brain Develops:
• Research suggests that drinking during the teen years could interfere with normal brain development and change the brain in ways that:
o Have negative effects on information processing and learning.
o Increase the risk of developing alcohol use disorder later in life.