Long-Term Effects of Teen Binge Drinking on the Brain

Learn how binge drinking can affect your future long after you’ve sobered up.

Binge drinking is a common behavior in young people who are drinking underage or drinking in college. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 70% of binge drinking episodes involve adults age 26 years and older, it’s a behavior that teens should be especially aware and cautious of. Binge drinking has long-term effects on the brain that can last for the rest of a teen’s life.

What is binge drinking?
The CDC classifies binge drinking as a man having five or more drinks in two hours, or a woman having four or more drinks in two hours. This kind of drinking behavior is common at parties or while going out with friends. Binge drinking is drinking to get drunk. As a result, it can lead to both physical side effects and behavioral side effects like accidental injury and death.

What are some effects of binge drinking?
Some of the potential effects of binge drinking could be car crashes, drowning, firearm injuries, sexual assault, domestic violence, alcohol poisoning, unintended pregnancy, neurological damage and stroke. When judgment is severely impaired, risks increase across the board.

How does binge drinking affect the brain in the long term?
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, longtime binge drinkers run the risk of developing serious and persistent changes in the brain. This damage may come from direct effects of alcohol on the brain or the effects of poor health and liver disease on the brain. Keep in mind that drinking while pregnant can also cause permanent damage to the unborn child. These long term effects are still being studied, but science is showing that the changes to the brain are physical and very real. Binge drinking could affect your cognition, memory and moods.

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