How does drinking affect a teenager?
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Host: How does drinking affect a teenager? Judith Welles Cousins: Drinking affects a teenager and drug use in general affects a teenager in a number of ways. One is, it affects their ability to make sound decisions because it affects that part of the brain, particularly, that has to do with judgment and planning and organizing, so what's called the prefrontal cortex where -- if that's not functioning really well, if that's impaired in some way and alcohol and drugs impair that part of the brain, then that's going to create a situation where teens will be more impulse, will be making less thoughtful decisions. It also affects learning, it affects memory. Alcohol and drug use affect learning and affects memory. It also affects a teenager's ability to develop what's really important when you are a teenager is to develop the ability to have good social interactions because one of the things that we do when we learn how to get along with other people is we take cues from other people and if a teenager is drinking and or using other drugs, that ability gets impaired. It's not as acute, it's not as clear. Also, one of the things that's difficult for all of us, but particularly for teenagers is learning how to manage, learning how to deal with feelings that they don't like, like anger or shame or embarrassment and while drinking and using can help sort of cover that over and make us feel better temporarily, it really impairs a teenager's ability to learn how to do those things and so they enter into adulthood and with some areas where they are not confident.