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Alcohol and young people

Can drinking alcohol before you are 18 years old affect your brain development?


Model of brain held in a hand

Yes! Alcohol can affect your brain development and make it harder to learn and remember things.

How does early alcohol use affect brain development?

Early alcohol use may interrupt cell growth in the frontal lobe of the brain, an area which does not reach full maturity until a person reaches their mid-twenties, and which controls higher mental processes such as planning.

Alcohol use interferes with brain development and harms include poor attention, poor decision-making and forward planning - impacting on mental health and educational attainment.

Need more info?

Learn more about drug and alcohol issues affecting young Australians at or visit your local public library.

Free pamphlets

Visit the Your Room website to download or order free drug and alcohol information pamphlets such as:

  • Drug Facts booklets - a range of 15 titles including alcohol, cannabis, inhalants and caffeine and energy drinks
  • Your pocket guide to a good night out
  • Your guide to dealing with grog
  • Alcohol and the brain - youth wallet card

Need help with a drug or alcohol issue?

You can call the Alcohol Drug Information Service (ADIS) for support, information, advice, crisis counselling and referral to services in NSW.

Phone: 1800 422 599 

Freecall numbers are not free from mobile phones.