The earlier a person starts drinking alcohol the greater the risk of changing the development of the brain. This can lead to problems with memory and learning, and increases the risk of having alcohol-related problems later in life. 1
While you can legally consume and purchase alcohol at 18 years of age in Australia, you still have a choice to delay drinking while your brain continues to mature. Because the brain doesn’t fully mature until the early twenties, it is worth considering delaying the use of alcohol for as long as possible.
There are a number of things to consider when making the decision about whether to drink or not.
Just because people you know are drinking doesn’t mean you have to as well. You have a right to make your own decisions about your body and how you treat it. Young people often overestimate how much, and how many of their friends are drinking.
Young people who regularly drink alcohol through their teenage years and into their early twenties are at risk of damaging their brain. This can lead to problems with:
These negative effects of alcohol use may affect your school grades and can impact on your career path options. 1
1 Monti P, Miranda R, Nixon K, Sher K, Swartzwelder H, Tapert S, White A, Crews F. Adolescence: Booze, Brains, and Behavior. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 2010; 29(2):207–220.
2 Bridle, R, Goggin, L, Christou, A. (2012). Alcohol Trends in Western Australia: ASSAD Survey 2011. Brief communications no. 6. Perth: Drug and Alcohol Office.
3 Bridle, R, Miller. J, King, T, Christou, A. (2012). Australian School Student Alcohol and Drug Survey: Alcohol Report 2011 – Western Australian results. Drug and Alcohol Office Surveillance Report: Number 8. Perth: Drug and Alcohol Office
4 Nagel BJ, Schweinsburg AL. Phan V. Tapert SF. 2005. Reduced hippocampal volume among adolescents with alcohol use disorders without psychiatric comorbidity. Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, School of Arts and Sciences; Veterans Medical Research Foundation, San Diego, California; and the VA San Diego Healthcare System.
Call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024 toll free for country callers
For emergencies call the 000 emergency line.