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Alcohol, Tobacco & Drugs - Teens

Alcohol, tobacco and drugs affect teenagers in different ways than adults. Learn about the affects of alcohol, tobacco and substance use on your teenagers and how to deal with it.

Alcohol and teens don’t mix

There are many reasons why teenagers should not drink alcohol or delay drinking alcohol as long as possible.
  • The teen brain is still under construction until age 24, and alcohol impairs the brain's activity and development (its effects can be even worse on teenage girls (external link).
  • Drinking alcohol regularly as a teenager can have long-term negative effects on the brain, especially for mood and impulse regulation.
  • It could critically affect teens' ability to perform tasks (e.g., driving, geometry, sports, map reading).
Myth Busted
What’s the big deal if teens use it? It’s just cannabis.
  • early and regular cannabis use can affect the developing brain and is related to mental health problems
  • regular cannabis use impairs thinking, attention and memory
It comes from a natural plant so it’s not harmful. Harmful effects of regular cannabis use are:
  • Respiratory damage such as increased coughing and breathing problems
  • Impacts on mental health including increased risk of psychosis
  • Damage to a developing foetus and increase a child's mental health and functioning
Cannabis is not addictive. Regular cannabis use can lead to dependency.
It’s okay to drive after using cannabis.
  • Cannabis impairs judgment and reaction time.
  • One is impaired after using cannabis and it is not safe or legal to operate a motor vehicle after using cannabis.
  • It increases the risk for injury or death.
Parents have no control over whether kids use cannabis. Parents are the most important influence on their teenage kids. You can help guide your teen by:
  • Building developmental assets
  • Monitoring and nurturing kids
  • Setting limits


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