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If you're under eighteen, you're advised not to drink because the body is less well equipped to cope with the effects of alcohol, physically and emotionally - your liver's not fully developed (your liver breaks down the toxins in alcohol) and neither is your brain. This is why the UK Chief Medical Officers in 2009 issued guidance for under 18s suggesting that an alcohol free childhood is the best option, but that at age 15 some use in supervised situations is acceptable. See the Chief Medical Officers' advice.

The effects of Alcohol

The same amount of alcohol will have a much greater effect on your body than on an adult, because your body - especially your brain and liver are still growing and developing. Read about alcohol and your health.

Because alcohol affects your judgement and perception and drinking a lot in one session can lead to alcohol poisoning, coma and in extreme cases death, there are laws setting an age limit to buy alcohol in shops or bars and drinking without parental supervision.

See these four clips by young people, whose lives have been dramatically affected by drinking too much alcohol, tell their stories:

bbc educ film - alan
Alan's story

BBC educ - Anna
Anna's story

BBC Educ = Emily
Emily's story

BBC Educ - Jordan
Jordan's story

Find out more about how alcohol can affect you:


See our alcohol and the law information sheet here:

alcohol and law factsheetalcohol and the law

To find out more, visit out interactive learning zone, Facts and guidance for older teenagers
fact zone TAA home unit poster stay safe fact sheet
Top tips for staying safe if you plan to drink
drink drive fact sheetPlanning to drive? Drink Drive Factsheet link to parents guideInformation leaflet for teenagers 'Alcohol and You'

alcohol and the law

Click here to view a table of International Legal drinking age.

VALIDATE UK aims to ensure that age restricted goods and services are only sold to those old enough to purchase them; it also helps those who may look younger than they are to prove their age .

Click below for details of the UK's national guarantee scheme for proof-of-age cards


Further sources of information

Here are some good youth-friendly websites offering advice on alcohol:

Talk About - Here you’ll find quizzes, interactive games and facts about alcohol.


Talk to

Rise above -

The Alcohol Education Trust –

If you’re worried about your or someone else’s drinking or if you’re worried about dependency and alcohol problems, the following sites could help:

Action on Addiction brings help, hope and freedom to those living with addiction and those living with people who suffer problems of addiction.

ADFAM provides information and advice for families of alcohol and drug users. The website has a list of local family support services. Tel: 0207 553 7640

Alateen is part of the Al-Anon fellowship and has been developed for young people, aged 12 to 20, who are affected by a problem drinker. Tel: 0207 403 0888

Addaction provides treatment, help and advice about alcohol and drugs for young people and adults. Manages more that 120 services in 80 locations in England and Scotland. Tel: 0207 251 5860

Childline provides confidential help and counselling for young people. Tel: 0800 1111 (Freephone)

Drinkline If you’re worried about your own or someone else’s drinking, you can call this free helpline, in complete confidence. They can put you in touch with your local alcohol advice centre for help and advice. Tel: 0800 917 8282 (24 hours a day helpline)

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics provides information, advice and support for everyone affected by their parent’s drinking.



© 2000 Alcohol in Moderation. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Disclaimer