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Alcohol and its effects on the adolescent brain

November 30, 2010 8:00 am Published by Comments Off on Alcohol and its effects on the adolescent brain

The red specks highlight where the integrity of the brain’s white matter is significantly less in the teens who binge drink, compared to those who do not. Photo: Susan Tapert/Tim McQueeny

Many parents, though familiar with the idea that drinking alcohol can cause brain damage, are not familiar with newer research that points out how alcohol is particularly harmful to the developing adolescent brain. Teens who begin drinking alcohol by the age of 15 are four times as likely to become alcoholics as those who wait till age 21 or later1. For these adolescents, the mix of alcohol with their developing brains creates a chemical need – where healthy, non-alcohol-related activities no longer provide pleasure, and only drinking fills the void. Teen drinkers, whether or not they become alcoholics, will have a much higher likelihood of impairment in their learning, memory, judgment, planning, decision making and impulse control2

Additional information and resources


  1. CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov
  2. DrawYourLine.com