Can Alcohol Hurt You?

Adults do it all the time, so why should you worry, right? Wrong. As a teen or young adult, your brain is still growing and developing and will continue to do so until the age of 22-24. Studies now prove that drinking alcohol, even in small quantities, can harm that growth.

When you drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream, and then affects the central nervous system. The central nervous system is your brain and spinal cord, which controls all of your body functions.

Even small amounts of alcohol can be risky. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down or depresses the brain. You might start out happy and relaxed, but usually alcohol makes you sad. Alcohol users often cry uncontrollably. It affects your ability to think, speak and even your sense of balance.

In a national study, more than 90% of kids think teens that drink alcohol are not cool. 89% said drinking alcohol between ages 9-13 was never ok.

* Kids Health Study from Nemours

The Effects of Alcohol

  • It can make you physically sick. You could throw up—which is never fun or attractive to others—pass out or worse. You can also wake up the next morning with a hangover, which feels awful.
  • You might act out of character, or say or do something you don’t mean.
  • It can hurt your ability to make good decisions. Kids who drink often act impulsively and do things they otherwise wouldn’t do—including having sex, or trying other drugs they otherwise wouldn’t.
  • You might end up doing something embarrassing. When you drink alcohol, your inhibitions are lessened, and you might regret it—especially since everything can be documented and put on the internet or sent through cell phones.
  • It can get you into trouble—not only with your parents, but potentially with the police, or school administrators. It’s no fun to have to call your parents from jail, get kicked out of school, or get grounded.
  • You might let your guard down, and decide to trust someone you wouldn’t otherwise trust. You might decide to ride in a car with someone who has been drinking, or leave with someone you don’t know at all, which is risky.
  • Teens who drink are more likely to get into fights, both verbally and physically.
  • Teens who drink don’t do as well in school. It can damage your ability to study well and earn good grades.
  • It can affect your ability to perform well in sports, because alcohol affects balance and coordination.
  • Teen drinkers are more likely to gain weight or have health problems like high blood pressure.
  • Alcohol is addictive. If you start drinking when you’re young, it increases your chances for developing alcoholism, especially if it runs in your family. You might start needing alcohol just to feel good.

Alcohol Poisoning

Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can result in alcohol poisoning. This is why drinking games can be so dangerous. Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom of alcohol poisoning. You can also feel extremely sleepy, or slip into unconsciousness. You could experience difficulty in breathing or even a seizure. It also can create dangerously low blood sugar. In extreme situations, it can cause death—and no party is worth that.

The Facts About Binge Drinking

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that nearly 38 million or one out of every six Americans have participated in binge drinking. In the Jan. 10 issue of the CDC journal Vital Signs researchers surveyed 458,000 Americans who were 18 and older, asking them how much they had to drink in the past 30 days. The age group with most binge drinkers is 18-34 years.

– CBS, January 12, 2012

In a previous study by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, researchers reported that 29.8% of those 12 and older reported binge drinking in the past month.

– National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2008-2009

Weld County Teens and Binge Drinking

According to the 2012 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey in Weld County:

  • More than 22.5% of Weld County high school students binge drank by consuming 5 or more alcoholic beverages per occasion. This included 20% females and 25% males.
  • More Hispanic/Latino high school students (27%) than non-Hispanic White high school students (18%) binge drank in 2010.
  • More Hispanic/Latino females (22%)in Weld County binge drank than Non-Hispanic White females (18%). Also, more Hispanic/Latino males (32.5%) binge drank than non-Hispanic White males (18.5%).
  • 12% of students in Grade 9 as compared to 30.5% in Grade 12 binge drank, supporting research that shows that binge drinking in the past 30 days for adolescents typically increases with age.
  • More students perceive that students are binge drinking than actually are. Among Weld County high school students, 63% believe a “typical” student at their school binge drank in the past 30 days. However, the actual percentage is much less than that—only 22.5%.
  • “Everybody” isn’t binge drinking, and it’s important to get the word out!

Binge Drinking is Dangerous

Drinking large amounts of alcohol (four of five drinks) in a short period of time is known as binge drinking. In Weld County, many teens are daring each other to drink a lot at one time. They’re also playing drinking games. This is extremely dangerous, because it can result in alcohol poisoning.

Binge Drinking Can Lead to Alcohol Poisoning

Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can result in alcohol poisoning. This is why drinking games can be so dangerous. Violent vomiting is usually the first symptom of alcohol poisoning. You can also feel extremely sleepy, or slip into unconsciousness. You could experience difficulty in breathing or even a seizure. It also can create dangerously low blood sugar. In extreme situations, it can cause death—and no party is worth that.

  • The first symptom of alcohol poisoning is usually violent vomiting.
  • When teens over drink, it can result in a sleepy feeling, or even unconsciousness.
  • Binge drinkers can experience difficulty in breathing or even have a seizure.
  • Alcohol poisoning can create dangerously low blood sugar levels.
  • In extreme situations, alcohol poisoning can cause death.


*Stats courtesy of Speak Now Colorado.
Also used marijuana in past month
Felt sad for two weeks or more
Seriously considered suicide

Drinking and Driving

In Weld County 1 in 7 drivers involved in a traffic crash is a teenager. Click here to see a map of Weld County “Teenage Driver Traffic Crashes” from 2007-2011. According to the HKCS 2012 Survey, nearly 1 in 5 students report driving with a drunk driver and 1 in 10 students report driving while drinking.

Together We Can Make a Difference.
Click here for more information on the dangers of drinking and driving.

Alcohol + Diet Drinks or Energy Drinks

Do Alcohol Mixers Affect Intoxication Levels?

dc-canDoes it make a difference if you drink alcohol with regular or diet sodas? According to a new study, it does. In a study of men and women ages 21-33, those who drank vodka mixed with diet soda had breath alcohol concentrations that were 18% higher after 40 minutes compared to people who drank the same amount of vodka mixed with regular soda.

  • After three to four drinks, people who used diet soda as a mixer had a breath alcohol level that exceeded the legal limit for an adult operating a motor vehicle. People who used regular soda in their drink did not.
  • People who used diet mixers scored worse on a test measuring reaction time than people who used regular mixers. However, both groups reported feeling similar levels of intoxication.

The test findings suggest that diet mixers, although lower in calories, may have insidious effects, according to study researcher Cecile Marczinski, an assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University.

“People think they’re saving some calories by drinking their alcohol with a diet drink, but it’s much more harmful to the body to have a high blood alcohol concentration,” Marczinski said. Regular mixers may slow down the time it takes a person to become intoxicated from drinking, the researchers said.

Alcohol is absorbed by the body when it reaches the small intestine. But the stomach may treat the sugar in regular mixers as if it were food. As a result, the alcohol doesn’t reach the small intestine as quickly. In addition, the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may not delay stomach emptying, so the alcohol travels straight through to the small intestine.

An earlier study found that men who drank vodka mixed with a diet beverage had higher blood alcohol levels than men who drank vodka mixed with a regular beverage. Using an ultrasound, the researchers showed that the regular drink delayed stomach emptying, but the diet drink did not.

Dangerous Trend: Teens Smoking Alcohol

There’s a new trend among teenagers, and it takes the dangers of alcohol consumption to a whole new level. Teens are “smoking” alcohol instead of drinking it, oftentimes placing alcohol in a plastic bottle, pumping it with air, and sucking in the potent fumes. Videos demonstrating the process can be easily found on YouTube and other internet sites.

“These videos scare the hell out of me,” says Steve Pasierb, who runs the partnership at “It’s binge drinking in an instant. It’s like doing five or six shots into your bloodstream right away.”

Healthcare professionals are also concerned, saying it’s even more dangerous than drinking alcohol, and can be extremely addictive. They compare it to “pure alcohol shooting into your brain.”

When alcohol is consumed normally, it takes time for the liquor to affect you, as it travels into the stomach, is processed in the liver and 20 minutes later, into the bloodstream. But when alcohol vapors are inhaled, the alcohol is absorbed into the lungs instantly, racing to the brain.

“The normal sensation when you drink and you are getting more drunk is to vomit: It’s your body’s way of expelling alcohol,” explained Dr. Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital. ” However, when you inhale alcohol, your brain has no way of expelling it.”

Some of the videos even tell teens that inhaling alcohol can improve weight loss, or that drunkenness can be hidden more easily from parents. Videos also tell teens that smoking alcohol isn’t illegal—another falsehood. No matter how alcohol is consumed, it’s illegal if consumed by anyone under age 21.

Alcohol + Teen Dating Violence

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol plays a large role in abusive relationships among teenagers. In fact, more than 60 percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol—and one in four teenagers will experience sexual or nonsexual abuse by the time they finish college or turn 21.

If you are the victim of dating violence, you may:

  • Develop an eating disorder
  • Begin using drugs or alcohol
  • Have trouble sleeping or experience stress-related physical illnesses
  • Be depressed, have suicidal tendencies
  • Quit hanging out with your friends and become isolated
  • Not be able to concentrate and gets lower grades in school

Important Facts:

  • Teen girls who experience dating violence are more likely to binge drink
  • Teen boys who report dating violence are more likely to use marijuana
  • Teens who experience dating violence are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors as adults. Teen girls are more likely to smoke, have suicidal thoughts and have symptoms of depression. Teen boys are more likely to be antisocial, use marijuana and have suicidal thoughts
  • Teens who are in physically abusive relationships are 2-3 times more likely to be in a violent relationship between the ages of 18 and 25

Pediatrics, The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Longitudinal Relations Between Teen Dating Violence Victimization and Adverse Health Conditions, Deinera Exner-Cortens, MPHa, John Eckenrode, PhDa, and Emily Rothman, ScDb

Alcohol + Teen Sex

There’s no denying that teens can be sexually active. However, research shows those teens that use alcohol or drugs are at greater risk for unplanned sexual intercourse, sexual violence, exposure to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV and unplanned pregnancy. They also are more likely to have sex more often than teens that don’t drink at all. And if a teen indulges in excessive or binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row), they are at even greater risk of engaging in unprotected sex and other risky behaviors.

Teens—both boys and girls– who don’t drink are much less likely to become sexually active. Teens who have high levels of support from their parents are also less likely to have sex than teens who don’t feel much parental support.

Here’s an interesting fact: teens who believe their parents approve of adolescent sexual intercourse are more likely to be sexually active that teens who believe their parents disapprove of teen sexual activity. That’s why it’s so important to have conversations with your teen, and let them know where you stand on important issues like alcohol, marijuana, teen sex and even bullying.

Even more information.

Teen Drinking + Driving

Youth aged 16-24 are involved in 28% of all alcohol-related driving accidents—the highest percentage represented. This is for many reasons:

  • They tend to be relatively inexperienced drivers
  • They are relatively inexperienced drinkers
  • They have low impulse control
  • They have a false sense of being invincible
  • Since they can be very “me-oriented,” it can be hard for them to think about how their actions could harm others.

You might want to talk to your parents about creating a strategy regarding drinking and driving. Ask them if they will come pick you up if you find yourself in a situation where the person you were riding with is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In most situations, parents would prefer to do this, than have you be at risk by riding with someone who’s been drinking or doing drugs. If you’ve been drinking or doing drugs, make sure you don’t drive either.

Be a Role Model

You don’t have to be an adult to be a role model. How you behave—as much as what you say—affects the people around you. Positively, or negatively.

For example, if you keep silent when you see someone bullying another person, it’s the equivalent of saying bullying is ok. If you throw trash out the window in front of your younger sibling, you’re telling them that it’s appropriate behavior. If you spread rumors about a classmate, you’re telling the world it’s ok to talk behind someone’s back. And if you drink alcohol or do drugs, you’ll telling the people around you that you don’t respect the law, or care about what you’re doing to your body.

Our actions speak louder than words. Whenever possible, make sure that how you act reflects the person you want to be—and how you want to be treated by others.