The social life of a teenager is full of new experiences. There’s a very good chance you’ll find yourself in situations where you have to make decisions about alcohol. Your friends might pressure you to do things your parents may not necessarily approve of.

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So, what decisions do you make about alcohol?

The old saying ‘knowledge is power’ rings true in this situation. Knowing the facts about alcohol helps you make better decisions. Alcohol can easily affect your relationships and your ability to work and study. It’s important to know the dangers of alcohol and to have strategies that will help keep you safe. It can be hard to say ‘no’, especially if your friends are really putting the pressure on.

This section contains a range of information, tips and resources to help keep you safe during your teenage years.


 

Effects of alcohol on young people

Since you were a child you’ve probably been discouraged from drinking by either your parents, teachers or other adults in your life. But why shouldn’t you drink?

Well, there are very good, proven, scientific reasons. Here’s some information to help you understand the health risks surrounding alcohol.

The brain

Alcohol affects a young person differently to that of an adult. It interferes with the neural refinement of the brain which affects memory, problem solving skills, mental health and the ability to learn. It can also affect the physical size of the brain, resulting in a smaller frontal lobe and irregularities in the white matter.

Short and long-term effects

Having your first drink as an adolescent, rather than an adult, can increase your risk of having problems with alcohol later in life. Young people tend to become dependent on alcohol more quickly than adults, they seek treatment less often, and can relapse quickly after treatment. It can also be linked with alcohol related problems such as memory loss and chronic disease later in life.

Mental health

Mental health problems are commonly linked with people who began drinking alcohol as teenagers. These conditions can include: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and attentions-deficit/hyperactivity disorders.

Behaviour

Some young people can tend to seek sensations by placing themselves in high-risk situations, doing things they may later regret. In fact, alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death among young people being: unintentional injuries, homicide and suicide.


 

Signs that alcohol may be affecting you or your friends:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor grades
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in activities
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for physically hurting someone while your drunk
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity
  • Physical and sexual assault
  • Abuse of other drugs.

 

Tips for partying safely

Hipsters blowing confetti

Here are some tips to keep you safe when you start going to parties:

  • Hang out with people who share your interests.
  • Be prepared to say ‘no’. It feels good to stick to your guns.
  • Don’t judge others; you don’t have to agree with what others choose to do.
  • Organise activities that interest you and don’t involve alcohol.
  • Have a safe plan for getting home before you go out. That could be a designated driver, a taxi, or being picked up by your parents.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, only have low-alcohol drinks spaced with water or soft drink.
  • Avoid getting in rounds or shouting. You may end up drinking too fast.
  • Don’t let people top-up your glass. You won’t be able to monitor how many standard drinks you’re having if people keep adding to the glass.
    Click here for more information on the standard drink.

Energy drinks and alcohol

Mixing energy drinks and alcohol can be a dangerous cocktail. The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks can mask the normal effects of alcohol and have unpredictable effects.

Side effects of mixing alcohol with energy drinks

Most popular brands of energy drinks are extremely high in caffeine. That’s why you get such a ‘buzz’ after drinking them. Adding alcohol to energy drinks can have greater side effects than just drinking alcohol alone. The danger is that the increased alertness can mask the effects of intoxication, leading to a greater consumption of alcohol over a longer period of time. This increases your level of inebriation. Common side effects of mixing energy drinks with energy drinks include:young people energy drinks

-aggression
-inability to sleep
-headaches
-nausea
-violence
-anxiety
-dehydration
-heightened hangovers
-impaired judgement
-poor decision making.
-What’s in an energy drink?

The average energy drink contains approximately 80mg of caffeine which is equivalent to a strong cup of coffee. However, some energy drinks contain vastly more caffeine through the inclusion of natural sources of caffeine such as guarana.

There is limited research available to safely identify how many energy drinks mixed with alcohol can be consumed before health effects occur. When drinking energy drinks (especially with alcohol) consider how many other stimulant drinks you are having and be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

Did you know?

Common reactions to energy drinks include: insomnia, chest palpitations, anxiety, headaches and nausea?


 

Schoolies

Finishing school is an exciting time. There are lots of adventures and new experiences ahead to look forward to. It’s a time to spend with friends and family to celebrate your achievements and the end of an era. Whether you choose to celebrate in the hub of the Gold Coast, at home with your family or overseas, it’s important to stay safe.

For many, alcohol is a part of the Schoolies tradition. At the risk of sounding like the fun police, it’s important to consider the harsh reality that things can go drastically wrong.

Your behaviour at Schoolies can affect the rest of your life.

Before you leave for your week away it’s a good idea to think about how you’re going to deal with alcohol. There’s a good chance your friends or people around you will be drinking alcohol, so will you hold off, or will you drink too? While you’re making this decision, keep in mind that drinking laws stay the same during the Schoolies period. Even if it’s legal for you to drink alcohol, pay extra attention to you how much you drink and the behaviours of those around you. It’s all about staying safe and making good decisions.

-Alcohol laws stay the same during the Schoolies period.

-Are you under 18?shutterstock_197903357

-The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking recommend:

-For children and young people less than 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Are you 18?

The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking recommend:

-On a single occasion of drinking, the risk of alcohol-related injury increases with the amount consumed.

-Drinking no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion reduces the risk of alcohol-related injury.

Keep in contact

For many of you this will be the first holiday away from the supervision of your parents. When organising your time away, be sure to discuss your plans with your parents. They’ll be genuinely interested in what you’re doing, where you’re going and who you’ll be with.

Respect the broader community

Lots of planning goes into planning Schoolies because everyone wants you to have a good time. Popular Schoolies locations like the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and the Whitsundays plan events which include supervision to keep you safe. They also take measures to prevent your celebrations affecting the people and businesses in the area. Remember that people live and work in the places where you’re partying, so be sure to respect their needs and safety.