How Alcohol Misuse Affects the Development of the Teen Brain

April 25, 2018

Researchers are constantly coming up with new reasons why teenagers should not drink alcohol. Yet, alcohol remains the number one misused and abused drug in South Carolina by youth under the age of 21. Research proves that alcohol abuse and misuse affects the development of the teen brain.

The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) reports that one in nine high school students have driven after drinking in the past month and excessive alcohol use ranks third among life-style related cause of death in the U.S.

Alcohol affects two crucial parts of the brain during development. These affects can result in irreversible changes in the brain that can impact memory, learning, decision-making and personality.

“An estimated 85 South Carolinians die each year from alcohol use.”


Negative Health Effects of Alcohol Abuse

  • Alcohol affects all parts of the brain which then affect: coordination, emotional control, thinking, decision-making, hand-eye movement, speech, and memory.
  • Underage (under the age of 21) alcohol consumption increases the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder later in life (NIDA), such as alcoholism.
  • Because alcohol affects decision-making and emotional control, alcohol abuse increases the risk of physical and sexual assault, suicide and homicide, using and misusing other drugs and more (SAMHSA).

Other Ways Alcohol Influences the Brain

  • Poor vision
  • Slower reactions
  • Lack of coordination
  • Poor muscle control and judgement
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech

To learn more about what alcohol does to the developing brain, check out NIDA Teen’s fact sheets about alcohol.Alcohol consumption can be harmful at any age. Calling for help can be the difference between life and death, so know the signs of alcohol poisoning. If you notice yourself or another individual has any of the following symptoms, please call 911 immediately.

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Pale or blue-hued skin
  • Clammy skin
  • Passing out/unconsciousness
  • Stupor (awake but unresponsive)
  • Vision disturbances
  • Loss of balance
  • Irregular breathing
  • Shivering
  • Seizures

Reach out to LRADAC today

LRADAC Youth and Teen Services

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LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.