While you may think that drinking when you are a teen is just a way of enjoying life and getting the wild child out before you have many responsibilities, the exact opposite may be true. Alcohol has different effects on the teenage brain than it does on the adult brain, and the end results can be devastating. There are more alcohol related deaths in teenagers than any other drugs, and alcohol is often a factor in the top three causes of death for those aged 15-24: suicide, homicide and accident. Teenagers who drink alcohol are also more likely to use other illegal, harmful drugs.
The developing adolescent nervous system
The adolescent body and brain is constantly developing, and alcohol can stunt the growth of functions that are vital for being successful in life. Though actually a depressant of the central nervous system, alcohol may often seem to be a stimulant because it depresses the inhibition control center of the brain. The central nervous system is comprised of the spinal cord and the brain, and sends many signal to other parts of the body to get it to do what you want it to do. When alcohol is in the system, the central nervous system slows down the processes of speaking, thinking and moving.
Alcohol’s impact on a growing brain
The cerebral cortex works directly with your senses, and can be slowed down when alcohol is in the system, causing delayed reaction times to many harmful situations. Memories are made in a section of the brain called the hippocampus. Once alcohol has reached this structure, short term memory can be affected. Too much alcohol can lead to a complete blackout of entire events or days. If permanent damage occurs to the hippocampus, it may be difficult to hold onto facts or learn new things in the future.
Frontal lobes are used to form ideas, make decisions, use self-control and plan. Urges and emotions are less controlled when alcohol is present in the front lobes, and may cause a teenager to act violent in a situation where they normally would not. Damage to the frontal lobes can be permanent if the drinking continues long term.
The hypothalamus is basically the housekeeper of the brain, and is significantly upset by the presence of alcohol. This can affect hunger, thirst, increased body temperature and blood pressure and decreased heart rate.
A few bad choices do not have to ruin a life
Teenagers are often impulsive and make decision before they are truly prepared to make them. If you are facing criminal charges related to alcohol consumption, consult with an attorney today.