The human brain continues to grow until a person is about 24 years of age. Drinking alcohol during that time can damage short- and long-term brain growth and the damage can be permanent. Although any drinking can be harmful, binge drinking is more likely to cause young people to suffer negative effects such as blackouts, memory loss, alcohol poisoning, or damage to their ability to remember things in the future. All parts of the growing brain are impacted negatively by alcohol, but the memory function is especially affected.
Adolescent drinkers perform worse in school, are more likely to fall behind, and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, and violence. People who begin drinking in their teens are not only at greater risk for developing alcohol dependence sometime in their lives, they are also at greater risk for developing an addiction at a younger age, especially chronic and relapsing addiction problems.