Teens: What You Should Know About Alcohol

Alcohol is the drug of choice for America. It is a psychoactive drug that four in five men and women over the age of twelve have tried at least once. The number of those who have tried alcohol is 2.5 times the number of those who have experimented with marijuana. Sadly, there are approximately 18.3 million individuals who abuse alcohol in the United States. And according to the HealthyChildren.org, every year 3.4 million Americans age 12 and older undergo alcohol abuse treatment or have reported alcohol related problems.


Here are some points to consider regarding alcohol. Perhaps the information below might help you make the choice not to drink. Avoiding alcohol can in fact save your life.


Alcohol affects the brain. Underage drinking poses certain risks to adolescents, primarily because their brains are still in its development. When drinking alcohol becomes an addiction, there is a clear effect on the brain. For instance, there is a point at which the disease of alcoholism progresses into an addiction. It could be when there is a reduction in certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When the decrease of neurotransmitters is experienced, there is often a craving to drink. For instance, serotonin, and dopamine are three brain chemicals that have been consistently linked with mood and mood disorders. Changes to the levels of dopamine in a teen’s system, for example, are linked to psychosis and schizophrenia, whereas serotonin are connected to the psychiatric experiences of depression and bipolar disorder. That’s not to say that the decrease of these neurotransmitters cause these psychological disorders, but to point out that they affect mood and emotional activity. When their levels are low in the brain, a teen might return to not feeling well about who they are and their life and yearn to have a drink. Furthermore, consuming large amounts of alcohol can especially affect a teen because the adolescent brain is still growing.


Alcohol affects the body. Alcohol abuse impedes nutrient breakdown and impairs a teen’s ability to assimilate those nutrients. Also, when an adolescent engages in alcohol abuse on a regular basis, 50 percent of their calorie intake is derived from the drinking. The damage to the body, not only because of the addiction but also because of poor eating habits that result from drinking has led many teen rehabilitative treatment centers to include nutritional counseling in their treatment plan. Furthermore, alcohol can damage every organ in the body, causing life-threatening disease including cancer.


Alcohol impairs your judgment. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause loss of coordination, poor judgment, slower reflexes, distorted vision, and memory lapse. These effects on an individual can lead to risky behavior, such as fast driving, sexual activity, and violence. In fact, about 5,000 individuals under the age of 21 die each year from alcohol related car crashes, homicide, suicide, and alcohol poisoning. And over 190,000 individuals under the age of 21 have visited an emergency room for alcohol related injuries in 2008 alone. Research indicates that teens who drink are more likely to be the victim or the perpetrator in a physical or sexual assault.


Alcohol can lead to poisoning. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can lead to coma or death.


Alcohol can be life threatening, even if you’re not the one drinking. In 2003, 31% of drivers, ages 15 to 20, died in traffic accidents that were alcohol related. If you’re around others who drink you have a greater chance of being hurt or seriously injured because of a car accident or aggression


There’s no question that alcohol is dangerous. The fact that it is a substance that is socially sanctioned might send mixed messages. For instance, seeing everyone else drink, including family and friends, might send the message that it’s okay to do so. At the same time, doctors, therapists, and other health-oriented professionals will frequently communicate its dangers. Of course, the choice is yours. But know that you’ll be significantly safer if you choose not to drink.