It is fairly common knowledge that alcohol has an effect on a person’s behavior. After 1 to several drinks, your speech might be slurred, you might feel sleepy, your face may become flushed…Clearly alcohol is affecting your body in some way. For adults who drink casually (1 or 2 drinks socially every now and then) these behavioral and bodily effects may not be a problem long-term. However, for those who binge drink or who drink heavily often, alcohol can have a direct effect on the brain and its development–especially in growing brains, namely the brains of teens, children, and babies whose mothers drank heavily while pregnant. The human brain continues to actively develop through the a person’s early 20s. Continued, heavy alcohol abuse throughout pregnancy or childhood and teenage years can actively impair proper brain development.
The Effects of Alcohol on a Teenage Brain:
>> Long-term averse effects on motor skills, memory, coordination, learning ability, and thinking
>> Impaired equilibrium and coordination which can increase the chances of risky behavior that could result in death (namely, driving while under the influence)
>> Potential inhibition of the brain’s ability to completely generate cells in its normal renewal processes
>> Chance of blackouts
>> Because the brain’s impulse control systems become used to alcohol intake, there is an increased risk of developing alcoholism more quickly in life with continued heavy drinking
You might be thinking as a teen, “Well, I’ll just keep my alcohol consumption low. One to two drinks on the weekends won’t hurt, right?” It just may. MADD.org stresses that “teens who drink half as much as adults” can still develop the negative effects listed above.
Next time you’re considering drinking at a party or indulging alone, think about what the alcohol is potentially doing to your developing brain and body!