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08 July 2019

THE REAL DANGERS OF UNDERAGE DRINKING

ON A DEVELOPING BRAIN

The effects of underage drinking can linger longer than the morning after hangover. Underage consumption poses a significant health risk in South Africa as young people, who are still developing, are more susceptible to physical and mental disorders as a result of consumption. It is therefore important that you are aware of the effects of underage consumption and that you talk to your mentee, and educate them as well.

HOW ALCOHOL AFFECTS THE ADOLESCENT BRAIN

Did you know our brains and personalities still go through essential development until we’re in our early 20s? A study led by neuroscientist Susan Tapert of the University of California found damaged nerve tissue in the brain of teens who drank. Researchers believe this damage can affect the teenager’s attention span and the ability to comprehend and interpret visual information.

"First of all, the adolescent brain is still undergoing several maturational processes that render it more vulnerable to some of the effects of substances," Tapert says.

Stepping Stone Center for Recovery has created an easy analogy you can use to explain it to your mentee:

“Walking in wet concrete leaves footprints that remain after it is hardened. Walking on dry concrete won’t leave footprints. Alcohol acts much the same way on the adolescent brain, leaving more profound damage because it is still ‘hardening’.”

NOW VS LATER

Teenagers who drink can risk long-term irreversible damage that can have an impact on their:

  • learning ability
  • short-term memory
  • decision-making skills
  • relationship building techniques

According to Stepping Stone Center for Recovery, “these problems include poor impulse control, which can lead to unsafe sexual activity and unexpected bouts of violence.”

Furthermore, it may also lead to the development of a serious alcohol dependency later in life in order to cope with the imbalance.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO EDUCATE THEM TODAY

Teenagers will always rebel with or without a cause, because it’s part of their development to explore the unknown and discover the world.

However, by replacing your teachings and key message about don’t drink at all with a simple wait till you’re old enough – and even then consume responsibly – is essential because the damage being done today, is not worth the consequences they may have to endure later in life.

Your responsibility as a mentor is to show them the truth and protect them with the facts about the negative effects of underage drinking.

BECOME PART OF THE CHANGE

It’s never too late to stand up for what’s right and help young people make important and positive life decisions today, that will have an effect on their future.

If you believe you can make a difference (even if it’s the smallest difference) to a younger life that may be affected by underage drinking, pledge to be a mentor now by clicking here.