For centuries, teens have been drinking alcohol. Among today’s youth, it’s the substance of choice. A lot of teens are drinking alcohol far too early, and they don’t understand the damage it’s doing to their brains. In the United States, teen drinking is one of the top public health issues.
Statistics show that alcohol can be more deadly than the use of all types of illicit drugs. About 20 percent of 8th graders say they’ve been drunk at least once. Close to 50 percent of these kids have had at least once alcoholic beverage.
The problem is that a lot of people believe that teens can recover from alcohol abuse much easier than adults. Many people think that adolescents have a greater level of resilience than adults.
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is the complete opposite. Studies show that adolescents are even more likely to engage in alcohol abuse than adults.
The Long-term Alcohol Abuse Damage to the Teenage Brain
After heavy alcohol abuse, some teens experience minor memory hiccups, but others experience long-term, irreversible effects. The human brain is an organ that continues developing into the early 20s.
It’s the frontal lobe portion of the brain that experiences a massive remodeling when a person is in his or her teens. Studies show that alcohol abuse during this vital period of brain development can cause permanent damage.
The damage can affect coordination, physical skills and memory. The reason why alcohol is very dangerous during adolescent years is because it causes disruptions in neurotransmitters, which are responsible for sending messages within the human brain.
Since alcohol causes the brain to produce excess amounts of dopamine, the brain’s ability to produce dopamine on its own becomes impaired.
The Risks of Teen Drinking
A lot of parents are relieved to know that their teens drink alcohol while avoiding other drugs. However, like other drugs, alcohol is considered to be a powerful drug, and it alters mood and cognitive functioning.
The major problem is that teens don’t have the coping skills to consume alcohol wisely. Statistics show that many teens die from alcohol-related automobile accidents.
Teens who abuse alcohol are also much more likely to have intercourse at a young age, and they’re more likely to have unprotected sex.
Furthermore, teens who abuse alcohol are also much more likely to be involved in violent crimes. Research shows that alcohol-impaired teens use their brain in different ways in an attempt to compensate for subtle neurological damages, which are caused by alcohol abuse.
What Happens When Teens Stop the Alcohol Abuse?
Many parents want to know what happens to the teen brain after alcohol consumption stops. However, the answer to this question can be tricky because there are several variables involved.
The phase of brain development that a teen is undergoing while drinking alcohol plays a major role in determining what happens later on. If alcohol is consumed during earlier stages of brain development, it has much more of an impact on the long-term results.
Put simply, alcohol can cause long-term, irreversible damage to a brain that is in the earliest stages of development. It’s less likely to cause irreversible damage when consumed during later stages of brain development.
While alcohol abuse is especially damaging, it’s important to remember that even occasional drinking can damage the teenage brain. The frequency and amount of alcohol consumed play strong roles.
The combination of all of these variables determine exactly what happens to a teen’s brain after he or she stops drinking, but the end result is never good. If you or someone you know needs help beating an addiction, get help immediately.