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Alcohol and the Brain Awareness

"Mom, Can I have a sip of your wine?" It's easy to say yes, but how is it really affecting your child?

Children do not always acknowledge alcohol as a harmful substance because their parents and other role models commonly use it as part of their lifestyle. Underage drinking typically leads to engaging in high-risk behaviors and increases the likelihood of over consuming alcohol as an adult.

When alcohol is consumed, it is circulated to the brain and inhibits cognitive function. The part of the brain that is in charge of memory tasks is especially vulnerable because development continues beyond adolescence. In result, people who drank heavily as children have underdeveloped areas of their brain compared to those who waited.

Due to peer pressures and social anxieties as adolescents, drinking is common. Adolescents are less sedated by alcohol than adults which results in excess consumption. Because peer approval is so important as a teenager, they often will drink to satisfy their social pressures and partake in high-risk behaviors.

According to Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 50% of Rutland County high school students have reported that they have drank alcohol other than a few sips (2015).

Alcohol Related Risky Behaviors: •          Drunk Driving •          Domestic Violence •          Fire related fatalities •          Risky sexual behavior

Because the adolescent brain is still developing, the younger someone starts drinking, the greater the chances he or she will have alcohol use problems in their lifetime. Parental efforts are needed to help improve adolescent decision-making. The 10-10-10 rule can be shared with your child to help them make decisions. If they need to make a decision, have them wait 10 seconds, 10 minutes, 10 days. Waiting allows other areas of the brain to engage and ultimately make healthier decisions.

Rutland Mental Health Services provides substance abuse assessment, evaluation and treatment for adults and youth. In Vermont, individuals between the ages of 12 and 17 can access substance abuse treatment without the permission of a parent or guardian. To make an appointment call 775-2381.

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