When teens drink, alcohol affects their brains in the short-term– but repeated drinking can also impact it down the road, especially as their brains grow and develop.
Research shows that drinking during the teen years could interfere with normal brain development and change the brain in ways that:
If you are a pregnant woman or one who is trying to conceive, you can prevent alcohol-related birth defects by not drinking alcohol during your pregnancy. Alcohol can cause a range of birth defects, the most serious being fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Children born with alcohol-related birth defects can have lifelong learning and behavior problems. Those born with FAS have physical abnormalities, mental impairment, and behavior problems. Because scientists do not know exactly how much alcohol it takes to cause alcohol-related birth defects, it is best not to drink any alcohol during this time.
Children with fetal alcohol syndrom may:
Beginning at around age 50, the body and brain start to undergo changes that make it increasingly difficult for alcohol to be effectively digested. That means that regardless of how intoxicated you feel, alcohol remains in your system longer putting. This causes adults 50 and older who drink beyond safe guidelines to be more vulnerable to damage and negative consequences to their health and well-being from alcohol.
Many middle-aged and older adults experience negative consequences from alcohol yet do not realize that alcohol is the culprit. This may be because they are drinking the same amount they always have. Many adults 50 and older also may assume that the consequences they experience are the result of normal aging.
Finally, it is important to note that by age 50, many adults are already taking medications to treat chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure medication or antidepressants. It is important to be informed about medication-alcohol interactions that can increase the negative effects of even moderate drinking on your body and brain. You can look at a list of medications here that are considered dangerous to mix with alcohol. If you are curious as to whether your personal set of medications may interact with alcohol or whether your health would be best served by not drinking at all, talk to your doctor.