What Young People Need to Know

It is important for young people to learn why they shouldn’t be drinking alcohol. This can help them make an informed decision not to drink, and understand why no alcohol is the safest choice when you are under 18. 

There is building evidence that drinking alcohol is harmful to the developing brain, particularly to the area of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking. Damage to this part of the brain during its development can lead to learning difficulties, memory problems, and the risk of mental health problems. There may be an association with other problems later in life such as alcohol dependence. [1]

Concerns about the risks of alcohol for young people, including the potential impact on brain development, led to National Health and Medical Research recommending:

For young people under 18 years of age, no alcohol is the safest choice. Delaying drinking alcohol as long as possible is also recommended. [2]


In this section:

Commonly Asked Questions

(1) Hingson, R.W., Heeren, T. & Winter, M.R. (2006). Age of Alcohol-Dependence Onset: Associations with Severity of Dependence and Seeking Treatment. Pediatrics. 118(3):755-763.

(2)National Health and Medical Research Council. (2009). Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol: Commonwealth of Australia. Available at http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines/publications/ds10