Alcohol Use in Teens: Damaging Learning and Memory

bottle caps 647830 1280Alcohol use in teens isn’t uncommon. After all, alcohol is the most common substance used among students from 8th to 12th grade. Drinking habits actually form often during this time for many individuals. Of course, parents don’t approve of this behavior usually, but it may be harming our children a lot more than we first realized. ScienceDaily recently wrote an article discussing new research about the effects of alcohol use in teens.

The goal of the study

The study was conducted by researchers at the Research Society on Alcoholism. The wanted to look into “whether moderate, binge, extreme-binge drinking” in teens has a later effect on learning and memory. They also wanted to know if the amount of alcohol makes a difference in learning and memory during 6 adolescent years.
Moderate drinking is considered no more than 4 drinks, binge drinking is considered 5 or more drinks, and extreme-binge drinking is considered 10 or more drinks.

Alcohol use in teens can harm learning and memory

What the researchers discovered was alarming. The acquisition of new information verbally was the hardest hit–this is how students are taught most things in school. It was shown that alcohol use in teens definitely affected verbal learning and memory performance. The researchers also noted that around 50 percent more boys were categorized as “extreme-binge” drinkers, which confirms other data saying that high school boys are more likely to drink much more alcohol than girls.

What you can do

Teens are known for rebellious behavior and not listening to their parents–which makes deterring alcohol use in teens even harder. How can you get someone to listen that doesn’t want to listen or thinks you don’t know anything? The best that you can do, as a parent, is ask them what they think about the matter. Don’t be judgemental, don’t try to argue with their point of view, that will just make them recoil and not want to listen. Ask them if they know the possible damaging effects of early alcohol use in teens, then if they don’t, explain it factually. Then let it rest. If it gets out of hand, then it’s time to take further action.
There are programs and treatments available for your teen if they’re having issues with alcohol or other substances.

Trails Carolina can help

Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program for struggling youth, ages 10-17. Our students commonly deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other behavioral challenges. We use outdoor learning and wilderness therapy to improve the lives of young people.
For more information about how Trails Carolina handles alcohol use in teens, please call 800-975-7303 today!

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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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