Alcohol is not suitable for young people

The harmful effects of alcohol are the same for young people as they are for adults. However, young people’s developing brains are more sensitive to alcohol. Inexperience – in both using alcohol and knowing your own limits – can also have serious consequences. Alcohol has no positive health effects for young people.

Why should young people steer clear of alcohol?

Young people’s developing brains are more sensitive to alcohol than adult brains are. Alcohol intoxicates your brain by altering the function of its nerve cell membranes, and this is where the feeling of drunkenness comes from. For a young person, heavy drinking can impair memory, concentration and spatial ability.

Early exposure to alcohol increases the risk of alcohol dependency. The younger you start drinking, the greater your risk of developing a dependency on alcohol and increasing the harmful effects that alcohol will have on you as an adult.

The harmful effects of alcohol are the same for young people as they are for adults. In Finland, accidents are one of the most significant harmful effects associated with alcohol use among both young people and adults. Alcohol is also a factor in many illnesses. Read more about the harmful effects of alcohol and illnesses caused by alcohol.

Young people are a high-risk group for alcohol poisoning

Alcohol affects young people much more severely than it does adults, as inexperienced young people do not know their own limits. Drinking alcohol quickly on an empty stomach can substantially raise your blood pressure in a very short space of time. Children and youth who have drunk too much through inexperience are high-risk groups for alcohol poisoning. Read more about alcohol poisoning.

Social pressure often causes young people to start drinking

It is often external factors, such as friends, that cause young people to start using alcohol and other intoxicants. Social pressure does not usually arise from being actively pressured by others, but rather from the young person’s desire to belong to a group that drinks alcohol.

Trying alcohol may also be a part of the growing up process. Friends and other environmental factors, such as social media, can create a false image of the kind of experiences a young person should have had by a certain age.

Young people have a very strong desire to feel accepted. If they don’t get this at home, school or through hobbies, they may end up trying to gain acceptance from a group that uses alcohol or other intoxicants.

Do not give alcohol to minors

The Alcohol Act states that you must not give alcohol to minors. Sometimes, parents think that allowing their children to drink at home is a way of controlling their alcohol use outside the home. However, what they are in fact doing is sending their children the message that it is okay for young people to drink alcohol. Being allowed to drink at home may also lower the threshold for young people to drink together.

It is also a good idea to chat about these issues with any young members of the family who are already of full age, that is, about not giving alcohol to minors and about its potential consequences on their health and wellbeing.

If an Alko salesperson suspects that alcohol will be handed over to a minor, they will not make the sale. Read more about the rules of shopping at Alko.

Article source: EHYT Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention

Article picture: Folio Images

Talk about alcohol with young people – you could think about things such as:
  • Is it okay for an adult to drink alcohol when children or young people are present?
  • In what kind of situations is it disruptive when someone is drunk or drinking alcohol?
  • What effects does alcohol use have on the health and lives of young people?
  • What should you do if someone posts drunken photos of themselves or other people on social media?
  • What can you say if you want to refuse alcohol offered by a friend?
  • How do you tell a friend that they shouldn’t drink any more?
  • What should you do if your friend passes out?