Know the Facts

Your Brain on Drugs and Alcohol

Just because your parents do something, doesn’t mean it’s safe for you. Your brain goes through a lot changes between the ages of 13-25 and while it’s still developing, it’s important to make healthy decisions – this includes staying away from drugs and alcohol.


Having a drink at a party might seem fun, but did you know you could be causing irreversible damage to your brain? 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.*

Additional studies have shown that excessive drinking in teens can result in:

• Delayed puberty and/or negative effects on the reproductive system
• Lower bone mineral density
• Higher levels of liver enzymes that indicate liver damage
• Shorter limbs and reduced growth potential


Your friends say it’s harmless, but marijuana is known to cause short-term and long-term problems, especially in teens and young adults.

Recent studies have shown that marijuana use can actually change the structure of the teenage brain, specifically in areas dealing with memory and problem solving. The short-term impact can mean not making the play in the big game or impacting your GPA, because it's harder to remember something for a test.

And guess what? Everyone ISN’T doing it. The Healthy Kids Colorado Survey found that 65% of high schoolers surveyed have never tried marijuana.

Prescription Drugs

You might think prescription drugs are safe because they were prescribed by a doctor. But taking them for non-medical use to get high or “self-medicate” can be just as dangerous and addictive as taking illegal street drugs.

It is extremely dangerous to take any pill that you are uncertain about or was not prescribed for you. People can also have different reactions to drugs due to the differences in each person’s body chemistry. A drug that was okay for one person could be very risky, even fatal, for someone else.

Want to learn more about how alcohol and drug use can affect your brain? Visit Speak Now Colorado.

*National Health and Medical Research Council (2009). Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol: Commonwealth of Australia