Effects of alcohol on young people

It’s not only important for you to know why your child shouldn’t drink, it’s important that they know the reasons why they shouldn’t drink alcohol. Be sure they understand that it’s all about how much you love them and want to protect them. Here’s some information to give you a better understanding of why your child should avoid alcohol. Consider incorporating it into the conversations you have with your child. Effects of alcohol on young people
The brain
Alcohol affects young people differently to adults. It interferes with the neural refinement of the brain and affects memory, problem-solving skills, mental health and the ability to learn. It can also affect the physical size of their brain, resulting in a smaller frontal lobe and irregularities in the white matter.
Short and long-term effects
Adolescent alcohol initiation can have detrimental effects because young people tend to become dependent on alcohol more quickly than adults, they seek treatment less often and relapse quickly after treatment. It can also be linked with alcohol related problems such as memory loss and chronic disease later in life.
Mental health
Mental health disorders commonly linked with early initiation include:
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • bipolar disorder
  • attentions-deficit/hyperactivity disorders.
Behaviour
Young people tend to seek thrills by placing themselves in high-risk situations and sometimes doing things they later regret. In fact, alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death among young people:
  • Unintentional injuries
  • Homicide 
  • Suicide
Signs that alcohol may be affecting your teenager
  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for physically hurting someone while drunk
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity
  • Physical and sexual assault
  • Abuse of other drugs

Our sources

Information in this section has been drawn and adapted from the following sources:

  • Sussman, S, Skara, S, & Ames, S 2008, ‘Substance abuse among adolescents’, Substance Use and Misuse, vol. 43, no. 12-13, p.p.1802-1828.