A Teenager’s Brain on Alcohol

by Chris Otto, Pastor of Students and Worship, Authentic Life Fellowship

Underage drinking is something that has become commonplace in our society, and at times, even winked upon by some. Sadly, what is viewed by many as a “right of passage” is a dangerous path filled with very real pitfalls. The impact alcohol has on a teenager’s brain is immense and has compounding effects that can cause serious problems in adulthood.

Alcohol has a significant impact on a teen’s brain physically. One area of the brain researchers have discovered tends to be affected the most is the prefrontal area of the brain. This is responsible for thinking, planning, good judgment, decision making and impulse control. Researchers have discovered recently that alcohol use by teenagers could cause extensive change in this area of the brain altering future personality and behavior traits as an adult. Many times the damage alcohol afflicts during this formative time is long term and irreversible.

Another area of the teenage brain greatly affected by alcohol is the area of the brain involved in learning and memory storage, or the hippocampus. The hippocampus is most related to alcohol induced brain damage in teens. Alcohol attacks the memory center of the brain and stunts growth in information storage. Teenage drinking could be likened to a computer virus in the student’s brain. Alcohol slows down brain activity, reduces formation of mature brain wiring, and increases the likelihood of alcohol addiction as an adult.

You might ask, “How can I help prevent this?”

Here are some quick suggestions:

*set clear rules about underage drinking with your teen
*know where your teen is and who they are with
*get to know your teenager’s friends
*ensure your teen’s surrounding are alcohol free
*have positive communication with your teenager