According to research by drinkaware.co.uk, the average age a person first tries alcohol in around 13 years old. It is important to know the effects that alcohol can have on our health in the short-term and the long-term.
“People who reported starting to drink before the age of 15 were four times more likely to also report meeting the criteria for alcohol dependence at some point in their lives”
– National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Consistently drinking at high levels can lead to Alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD) later in life, which can include alcoholic dementia. This can cause problems with day-to-day memory, planning, controlling emotions and behaviour, and generally slower brain function. According to alzheimers.org.uk, ARBD affects around 1 in 3 of those with alcohol addiction, and 1 in 200 of the adult UK population.
Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning. If the level of alcohol in the body gets too high, it can harm the body immediately. A few of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning are confusion, slurred speech, unresponsiveness and unconsciousness. But alcohol poisoning can lead to far worse, including heart failure, choking on your own vomit, coma, and death
Drinking during teenage years can lead to issues with both mental health and academic performance. This is because the brain is still developing during that time. Multiple reports have found that teenagers who drink alcohol are more likely to hurt themselves and feel depressed than those who don’t.
Research also shows that alcohol abuse can shrink the area of the brain associated with long-term learning and memory. Similarly, alcohol was shown to have long-term effects on reflex speed and language-related abilities such as spelling and reading.
Limiting alcohol consumption in general, and especially below the age of 20 can help reduce the likelihood of major damage from occurring. In order to consistently cut down on drinks, there are plenty of organisations that can help and websites with advice, such as drinkaware.org and the NHS website linked below.