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How alcohol affects the teen brain

Many San Antonio teens believe it is all fun and games to drink alcohol until someone gets behind the wheel, crashes a car and dies. Some teens do not realize the dangers of drinking until they are facing an underage DWI charge. They may assume that because they have seen their parents and others drink, there is nothing for them to be concerned about. Little do they realize that alcohol does not affect their brains the same as it affects adult brains.

Parents should learn about the effects of alcohol on their teenagers’ brains so they can take actions to discourage them from drinking. 

Affects brain development 

Alcohol is a depressant that decreases the central nervous system’s ability to function properly. It also slows down the brain. Unlike adults whose brains are fully developed, teen brains do not stop developing until they are in their 20s. Alcohol may cause serious damage to developing brain cells that can become permanent once development is complete. 

Alters brain chemistry and lower inhibitions 

Intoxicated teens are not capable of processing information as well as sober individuals. Alcohol diminishes the cerebral cortex’s cognitive functions. It also affects the frontal lobes of the brain, altering the drinker’s ability to make logical decisions and retain inhibitions. Teenagers who drink are more likely to engage in reckless, impulsive and aggressive behaviors. 

Can lead to permanent brain damage 

Many teens who binge drink find it hard to plan ahead and remember things. Too much alcohol consumption can result in the death of brain cells in the cerebral cortex, medulla, hypothalamus, hippocampus and the frontal lobes, leading to permanent damage. Teens do not need to drink as much alcohol to experience the same effects as adults. They only need to consume a small amount before they start to feel the effects of intoxication and damage to their brains begin. 

Teens and alcohol do not mix. The combination of the two can lead to tragedy, heartbreak, criminal charges and lifelong consequences. Anyone who has a teen dealing with a DWI charge should speak to an attorney about the situation to learn about options.

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