Teen Alcohol Use: The Damage And Where To Get Help

2:34 PM, Mar 8, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) --- Adolescents feel less sedated after consuming alcohol when compared to adults. So teens can drink more alcohol, because they are able to stay awake longer.  

When a young person drinks alcohol, his or her developing brain won't know how to react to protect itself from the rising level of alcohol toxicity.  

According to Johns Hopkins University, the youth's brain does not have the ability to prevent alcohol poisoning.

"For adults, alcohol tends to have that sedative effect up to a point, which will keep adults from over-consuming [to] the point of alcohol poisoning, because the adult will pass out. The adolescent brain doesn't have that function yet," said Beth Marshall at the Center for Adolescent Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Read Johns Hopkins University's report here. 
Alcohol damages a developing brain's memory and learning functions. These impairments can influence alcohol addiction in the future.  

"People who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcohol-dependent than those who wait until they are 21," according to the Johns Hopkins report.  

Alcohol does not discriminate between "good kids" or "bad kids" according to the Association for Psychological Science. 

"...adolescents who were exposed to drugs and alcohol before the age of 15 were 2 to 3 times more likely to become dependent on substances, contract STDs, drop out of school and have criminal records. In addition, teen pregnancy rates were higher among females who used drugs and alcohol before the age of 15 compared to those who did not use illicit substances at a young age.
Interestingly, the researchers discovered that 50% of the adolescents who were exposed to drugs and alcohol prior to age 15 had no prior history of negative behavioral problems."  

The damage from teen alcohol use is also expensive. 
Hospitalization for underage drinkers costs $755 million a year, according to the Mayo Clinic:

"Alcohol use necessitating acute-care hospitalization represents one of the most serious consequences of underage drinking...Harmful alcohol use in adolescence is a harbinger of alcohol abuse in adulthood." 

Read more WUSA 9 stories on underage drinking, here.  


Facts for Families, Teens: Alcohol And Other Drugs.
American Academy Of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, March 2011.

Adolescent Brain Development and the Risk for Alcohol and Other Drug Problems.
Bava, Sunita. Tapert, Susan. Neuropsychology Review, October 2010.

Changes in Sensation Seeking and Risk-Taking Propensity Predict Increases in Alcohol Use Among Early Adolescents.
MacPherson, Laura, et. al. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research. May 2010.  


District of Columbia



Written by: Elizabeth Jia
9NEWS NOW & WUSA9.com 


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