Youth may wonder why we, as adults, stress the importance of not engaging in behaviors like underage drinking. If you have ever gotten this question, let them know that the answer is simple…
We are trying to help SAVE THEIR BRAINS! Zombies are not the only threat looming about!
There is a legal age to drink under the pretense that by 21 years old, a body should be more fully developed–including the brain. Therefore, the body is better suited to handle the effects of alcohol when compared to those under the age of 21. When consuming alcohol before reaching 21, youth are more likely to develop an alcohol dependence/addiction. In fact, alcohol has the following effects on teens that drink:
- Reduction in cognitive function (memory, development of new brain cells, etc.)
- Impaired decision making
- Increased chances of engaging in risky behaviors
- Reduction in the brain’s white matter which is responsible for communication between cells
- Increased risks of weakening the immune system, heart complications, persistent brain damage, and early onset of dementia
When talking to youth about the dangers and risks of underagre drinkning, be sure to express that we just want to encourage and support them in making positive lifestyle choices that will promote their overall health rather than diminish it! This includes waiting until their 21 years old to consume alcohol. Assure them that they are not missing out on anything (despite what their peers may think or say), and display an example of what responsible drinking looks like, should you consume any in their presence.
For more conversation tips or starters, text ‘TALK” to 85775!
Additional Resources and Info
Talking to Your Teen: Underage Drinking
“Talk. They Hear You.”®: SAMHSA Campaign
Parents Who Host, Lose the Most: Don’t be a Party to Teenage Drinking