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Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: Got Alcohol on the Brain?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

As many of you know, the brain is still well under way in the development process through the teen years into your 20’s. Your decisions today can affect the way your brain develops. Ever wondered how? “Warda” from Wantagh Middle School in New York asks:

"How can alcohol affect the development of the brain?" 

The teen years are an important time for brain development. The thinking, memory, and feeling parts are all changing during this time, and alcohol can interfere with these important changes and actually shrink the thinking and memory parts.

Research shows that drinking lots of alcohol when you’re a teen can make an area of the brain called the frontal lobes smaller. The frontal lobes help us make decisions, think about things, and pay attention. Teens who drink a lot have problems in these areas.

Alcohol also can shrink the hippocampus, the brain area that helps with learning and memory. For weeks and months after a teen stops drinking heavily, these parts of the brain still struggle to work correctly. Drinking at a young age also makes alcoholism more likely later in life.

So the decision to drink when you’re still a teen could have lots of negative effects on brain development over time. So be kind to your brain and think before you drink.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


I wish these studies had been out twenty years ago. It would have changed the way we did things.
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Parents need to know this

Great post. We need to get this message to the schools.
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This is great! I especially agree that the earlier a person starts drinking alcohol, the more likely they are to become addicted. I think I saw over on teen talk for parents that a person who starts at 15 is 5x more likely to become addicted than someone who waits until they are 21. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

That's awesome! We should try get this to the schools, people have a right to know what alcohol does to us, it can hurt us in many ways, and also the ones around us. We need to find a way to get it towards the schools, and so they can know alcohol is BAD!

I took my first sip of alcohol when I was 3 then it got yucky

i Love justin bieber

i hate alcholha its yuckyyy

it was really hard dealing wih it

none of us enjoy alchhol

im writing a reasearch project for school on How Alcohol Effects the brain, and this is very helpful! also im glad i chose this topic, because now i know about the dangers of alcohol, and i dont want to drink!

I`m writing a reasearch project for school on How Alcohol Effects the brain, and this is quite helpful!

why would anyone drink alcohol at age? its kinda gross

im doing a reserch project and this "blog" is helpful although its not a real blog its named after a part in the brain!

alchol is bad for you and its YUKYYYYYY

You Spelled Yucky Wrong!!

this very help full

i hate alcohol its yucky and makes me sick wen i drink it

alcohol costs a lot of money and ruins lives

The brain is only affected this way when it it still developing, and only if a teen abuses alcohol. The only reason teens drink in the first place is because it is such a big taboo. If parents drank responsibly around their children, maybe even letting them have a sip in their own home (which is legal), then they would not grow up to drink it irresponsibly. Also, for adults who modieratly drink, there are many health benifits. If you dont believe me then google [link removed, per guidelines]

Actually, although it’s commonly believed that giving children a taste of alcohol at home is a way to protect them from abusing it later, research shows this is not true. In fact, although research studies have produced some mixed results, most of the evidence suggests that access to alcohol in the home actually increases the likelihood that a teen will abuse it outside the home. A recent study by McMorris et al concluded that “Adult-supervised settings for alcohol use resulted in higher levels of harmful alcohol consequences, contrary to predictions derived from harm-minimization policy.“ You can find the article at: Still, many factors go into whether a person becomes an alcoholic, including the age they start drinking. NIAAA—the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that “The younger you are when you start drinking, the greater your chance of becoming addicted to alcohol at some point in your life. More than 4 in 10 people who begin drinking before age 15 eventually become alcoholic.”

thank you. alcohol kills me



I dont like people who drink alcohol that much,but i have a friend that does...i wish she would stop but it's hard for her to stop. Im doing my best to get her to stop but it's really hard...

Drink. dont get drunk. thats where all the problems come from. simply drink in moderation and if not your [expletive deleted, per guidelines] your self.

beer is gross when i drank it i got sick and could not go to school. Dont drink at all

quick way to die

Has a lot of information
alcohol is so good tho