Alcohol & the Adolescent Brain

According to the National Institute of Health, alcohol is the most widely misused substance among America’s youth.  Underage drinking is a problem especially because alcohol affects teenagers and adults differently.  Research shows that our brains are still developing throughout adolescence.  One of the last areas of the brain to fully mature is the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for controlling impulses, behavior, organization, decision making and prioritizing those decisions.

Because of this development process, alcohol appears to produce greater impairments in learning and more widespread brain damage in adolescents than in adults. Repeated alcohol use can produce long-lasting changes in adolescent behavior and brain functioning. In fact, the ability of the brain to think, reason, remember, imagine, or learn might be harmfully changed as a result of repeated alcohol use.

Underage drinking also has emotional and psychological effects.  It impairs judgement and has even been linked strongly to teenage depression and suicide.  This is why our staff work to prevent and treat substance misuse among youth and teens!

For more information about preventing underage drinking, visit LRADAC’s Prevention Programs.

To learn about treatment opportunities for youth and teens, check out LRADAC’s Compass Program.

LRADAC is the designated alcohol abuse and drug abuse authority for Lexington and Richland Counties of South Carolina. The public, not-for-profit agency offers a wide array of prevention, intervention and treatment programs in locations convenient to residents of both counties. The agency has a budget of approximately $10 million and serves more than 5,000 clients per year.