Since you were a child you’ve probably been discouraged from drinking by either your parents, teachers or other adults in your life. But why shouldn’t you drink? Well, there are very good, proven, scientific reasons. Here’s some information to help you understand the health risks surrounding alcohol.
The brainAlcohol affects a young person differently to that of an adult. It interferes with the neural refinement of the brain which affects memory, problem solving skills, mental health and the ability to learn. It can also affect the physical size of the brain, resulting in a smaller frontal lobe and irregularities in the white matter.
Short and long-term effectsHaving your first drink as an adolescent, rather than an adult, can increase your risk of having problems with alcohol later in life. Young people tend to become dependent on alcohol more quickly than adults, they seek treatment less often, and can relapse quickly after treatment. It can also be linked with alcohol related problems such as memory loss and chronic disease later in life.
Mental healthMental health problems are commonly linked with people who began drinking alcohol as teenagers. These conditions can include: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and attentions-deficit/hyperactivity disorders.
BehaviourSome young people can tend to seek sensations by placing themselves in high-risk situations, doing things they may later regret. In fact, alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death among young people being: unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.
Information in this section has been drawn and adapted from the following sources:
- Australian Drug Foundation, 2008, The role of families in preventing alcohol-related harm among young people, ADF, Melbourne. Available from: http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/attachments/345_PRQ05Jun08_final.pdf
- Australian Drug Foundation, 2008, Drugs in focus. Teenage drinking: The facts and issues (2nd Edition), ADF, Melbourne. Available from: http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/attachments/085_DIF_teendrinking_complete_4.pdf
- Australian Drug Foundation, 2013, Druginfo fact sheet: Young people and alcohol, ADF Melbourne. Available from: http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/attachments/181_ADF_FactSheet_YoungPeopleAlcohol_FINAL_14June13.pdf
- National Health and Medical Research Council, 2009, Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol. NHMRC, Canberra. Available from: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/ds10-alcohol.pdf
- Sussman, S, Skara, S, & Ames, S 2008, ‘Substance abuse among adolescents’, Substance Use and Misuse, vol. 43, no. 12-13, p.p.1802-1828.