Car and pedestrian

How Does Alcohol Affect the Teenage Brain?

If you are under the age of 21 and drink alcohol, you do so illegally, and the legal consequences can be far-reaching. License suspension, fines and even jail time are just a few examples of what you may face if you are arrested for DUI in Oklahoma, but the health risks may be even more serious.

The effects of alcohol on your brain

Alcohol affects the teenage brain differently than it does an adult’s. Because you are in a phase where parts of the brain are still developing, alcohol can stunt important developmental steps that are vital for your future.

Alcohol can cause the brain to slow down because it acts as a depressant. It can cause confusion, slower reactions, slurred speech, lack of coordination, sleep disruption and poor judgment and muscle control. If you get behind the wheel of a car after drinking, your reaction times may be slowed, leading to a dangerous accident or a DUI arrest.

The brain’s prefrontal lobe is used for decision making, language, impulse control, judgment, and planning. This is one of the areas that develop the most while you are a teenager, and research suggests that teenagers who drink have smaller prefrontal lobes than teenagers who stay away from alcohol. Long term, alcohol’s effect on the prefrontal lobes can lead to impaired cognitive function and problem-solving.

Memory and learning are controlled by the hippocampus in the brain. Teenagers who drink alcohol may have a hippocampus that is 10 percent smaller than their peers who abstain from drinking. During the teenage years, the hippocampus is particularly sensitive to alcohol, meaning nerve cells are easily destroyed or damaged. Over time, your memory and ability to remember things can be greatly decreased.

Protect your future after a mistake

If you have been drinking and driving and were pulled over, your health and your future are at risk. Speak to an attorney to ensure you get a fast start on setting the record straight.