What Youth Should Know About Alcohol

Most Middle School Students Don’t Drink Alcohol

Most middle school students don’t drink alcohol, which is great! But experience has shown that those who do are more likely to experience:

• School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
• Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities (like sports!) 
• Unintentional injuries like burns, falls, and drowning.
• Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
• Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
• Memory problems.
• Physical and sexual assault.
• Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
• Abuse of other drugs.

Alcohol and Athletic Performance

Alcohol can impair your sports performance for up to 72 hours. Alcohol can cause:

• Muscle cramps — During heavy exercise, burning sugar can produce lactic acid as a by-product. Too much lactic acid leads to muscle fatigue and cramps. Drinking can lead to a bigger buildup of lactic acid and increase the risk of cramping.
• Decreased endurance level — The blood sugar a body needs for energy is produced by the liver releasing glucose into the bloodstream. Alcohol reduces your ability to produce this sugar, so you have less energy and endurance.
• Slowed reaction time — Alcohol slows down the central nervous system and the brain’s ability to process information. As long as alcohol remains in the body, it can affect reaction time, coordination, accuracy, and balance—all of which are important to optimal performance in sports.

It has been shown that youth who start drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who wait until they’re 21. Your best bet? Don’t start!

• Know the truth. Despite all the alcohol use on TV and in movies, music videos, billboards and magazines–most teens don’t use alcohol.
• Make friends, develop athletic skills, control your weight, be independent, be cool … play sports. Your actions in middle school can affect your eligibility in high school.
• Don’t waste money on alcohol. What other things could you spend that money on?  Get involved: encourage other students to stay away from alcohol; join community efforts to prevent underage drinking (like SADD).