Many parents worry about underage drinking, and rightly so. A young adult’s brain is still developing, and alcohol can be more dangerous to a teenager than an adult. The following article will look at drinking and the brain, and the impact underage drinking has on mental health.
Drinking and the Brain
Young people who start drinking early in their lives, at 14 or 15, for example, are four times more likely to experience alcohol dependence by the time they hit 21. Today’s teenagers are under more pressure than ever, and many attempts to deal with this by drinking alcohol.
In teenagers, the brain is still in a crucial growth stage. The use of alcohol can disrupt this stage and impair brain function. Some other dangers of underage drinking include:
- Memory problems
- Co-ordination problems
- Poorer motor skills
- More likely to form a dependency on alcohol
- Mental health problems
Teenagers experience more cognitive problems due to alcohol than adults do, and the damage occurs with much smaller amounts of alcohol, too. As alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the nervous system, causing cognitive issues and masking pain. It also prevents the brain from forming healthy inhibitions and therefore increases risk-taking behavior.
Alcohol also affects the areas of the brain responsible for balance and body temperature. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to hypothermia.
Any damage to the brain caused by alcohol consumption can be permanent, and teenagers are at a much higher risk than adults.
Impact of Alcohol On Mental Health
Alcohol consumption can affect mental health in several ways. Teenagers who drink are much more likely to become deceptive and withdrawn, as well as irritable. If the underlying cause is a mental health condition, alcohol will mask this and make it worse.
Alcohol changes the chemistry in the brain and alters mood, which is why people drink. For instance, someone anxious about exams might drink to soothe the anxiety, but this, in turn, increases anxiety due to the chemicals in the brain being unbalanced. Therefore, drinking and the brain can be a disastrous mix.
Alcohol abuse causes changes in brain chemistry regarding the production and release of dopamine and serotonin, both of which regulate mood. If your teenager is already taking medication to boost or balance serotonin levels, such as anti-depressants, alcohol consumption can lead to severe depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.
Regular use of alcohol decreases the ability to cope with stress. In other words, if someone is always running away from their feelings by drinking, they aren’t learning how to handle those feelings.
Nevertheless, some excellent programs exist to help you or a loved one manage mental health and alcohol abuse.
Oceanfront Recovery Center
Just two blocks away from the peaceful waters of the Pacific ocean is Oceanfront Recovery Center. With our vast range of programs and expert staff, we are among the best places to recover from mental health conditions, substance abuse, or both. Some of the programs we have on offer include:
- Bipolar disorder treatment
- Marijuana addiction treatment
- Meth addiction treatment
- Benzodiazepine addiction treatment
- Alcohol addiction treatment
- Depression treatment programs
Oceanfront Recovery Center believes in treating every patient with compassion and determination. We have stylish, comfortable surroundings and modern technology. To ensure our patients make a full recovery, we are happy to provide yoga, equine therapy, and holistic therapies to complement their treatment.
Our friendly intake team is happy to help you through the admissions process. We’re even happy to discuss finance with you, and we accept most insurance policies.