What are the effects?
Alcohol use among teenagers can have serious effects on their physical and mental health. These include:
Hangover: When teenagers are ‘hungover’ they are experiencing a type of alcohol poisoning. They become dehydrated and as a result, feel sick, have headaches and become irritable.
Poor school performance: Teenagers who use alcohol may remember less of what they have learned. This has knock-on effects at school, especially around exam time. Alcohol use can be the result and cause of difficulties at school. It can also hinder the development of other skills, such as decision-making, personal and social skills.
Anti-social behaviour and mental health: Heavy drinking and binge drinking are linked to anti-social behaviour, mental health problems and permanent brain damage.
Drinking, smoking and taking drugs: Teenagers who drink and smoke are more likely to take drugs.
Premature death: The main causes of death among 16 to 25 year olds are accidents, suicide and violence. Alcohol is often involved in these cases.
Unsafe sex: There is a definite link between drinking alcohol before sex and not using contraception. This can lead to crisis pregnancy and an increased risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
If a teenager drinks before they are 15 they are:
- four times more likely to develop alcohol dependency than those who wait until they are 21;
- seven times more likely to be in a car crash because of drinking; and
- 11 times more likely to suffer unintentional injuries after drinking.
Heavy use of alcohol during teenage years can impair brain development and cause loss of memory and other skills.