Alcohol Awareness Week is coordinated by Alcohol Change UK. Each year there is a different theme and this year the theme is ‘Understanding alcohol harm’

Although some teenagers experiment with alcohol, the latest figures shows that the majority of 11–15-year-olds in England haven’t ever tried alcohol. However, alcohol is part of our society and seen in programmes and films we watch, we may have adults in our lives that drink alcohol. And each year, thousands of people experience long-term health problems as a result of the alcohol they drink or die from alcohol-related causes.

The theme this year was chosen to highlight that alcohol never impacts people in isolation, it will explore exactly what is meant by ‘alcohol harm’ and challenge the stereotype of alcohol as an ‘individual’s problem’.

Why not visit Alcohol Change UK website to find out more about this years campaign


There are lots of different reasons why people might drink alcohol. It might be:

  • to fit in with a group or appear popular
  • to see what it feels like
  • because they feel like they should, or they feel pressure to do it
  • to distract from difficult thoughts or feelings, or to try to make these feelings go away
  • to feel more confident or able to talk to people

Whatever the reason someone drinks alcohol there are laws and drinking alcohol can have a negative effect on your mental and physical health, so it’s important to know the facts and be aware of the risks.

The Law

You must be 18 or over to buy alcohol products in the UK. However, if you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult, you can drink (but not buy) beer, wine or cider with a meal.


What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is created by the natural fermentation of sugars. Fermentation is a process that uses yeast or bacteria to change the sugars in a food into alcohol.


Alcohol and teenage health

When people drink alcohol, it’s absorbed into their bloodstream. From there, it affects the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls virtually all body functions.

As teenage bodies are still developing there are some extra risks that alcohol can pose to young people’s health. These include the possibility of acute alcohol poisoning which can cause low blood sugar, seizures and greater chance of accidental injury. This is a big reason for young people being admitted to hospital, in fact, in England alone, more than 10,000 under-18s were admitted to hospital because of alcohol in the two years starting April 2017.

Brain Development

A particular risk for teenagers is the potential effect of drinking on the young brain, tis is because the teenage brain is going through a major developmental phase. Research has shown that binge drinking under the age of twenty years old can cause changes to the brain which affect concentration and learning, as well as encouraging higher levels of risk-taking behaviour. It can also increase the chance of anxiety, which can continue into adulthood. All this could have an affect on your school work.

For more information on alcohol and your health why not visit the Drink aware website

Alcohol can also affect your mental health as it is a depressant, which means it slows the function of the central nervous system. It blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain which can alter your perceptions, emotions, movement, vision, and hearing. While drinking a person may feel relaxed, less anxious, and more confident, this is why people sometimes use alcohol to deal with their emotions. But these effects quickly wear off. The chemical changes in your brain can soon lead to more negative feelings, such as anger, depression or anxiety, regardless of your mood.

To learn more about alcohol and mental health visit the Young minds website

If you are worried about alcohol for yourself, a friend or a family member you can speak to the school nurses via chathealth page