Dangers of Underage Drinking
Kids and alcohol don’t mix
Evidence suggests that teenagers are drinking at a younger age and at risky levels. The average Australian starts drinking alcohol at 15.5 years and more than a quarter of our 14-19 year olds are putting themselves in danger with underage drinking and are at risk of harm at least once a month.
New research is advising us just how important it is for teenagers to delay the age at which they first drink alcohol.
We used to think that the teenage brain was the same as an adult brain; that it had already reached full development, however now science is telling us something very different.
From the age of around 12 or 13 years old, through to the early twenties the brain is in a state of intense development, moulding and hardwiring in readiness for the challenges of adulthood.
Through a process called ‘frontalisation’ the brain is growing and forming all the critical parts it needs for learning, memory, planning, emotional stability and thinking. The new science tells us that alcohol disrupts brain development during this critical phase of growth. Teenagers who drink alcohol risk their brains not reaching full capacity, which means they might never reach their full potential as an adult.
As a parent, the best thing you can do to educate your teens about the alcohol dangers to ensure they become a happy, healthy adult and to encourage them to delay drinking alcohol for as long as possible until at least the age of 18, which is within the legal drinking laws of Australia.
From a brain science point of view, even after the age of 18, it is best to reduce alcohol intake until the brain has finished developing. The longer teenagers delay drinking alcohol the best chance they give their brains to develop fully and reach their full potential to succeed and be happy in life.