According to International Medical University (IMU) associate dean and consultant psychiatrist Professor Dr. Philip George, age clubbing and drinking age restrictions are in place to protect youths from becoming dependent on alcohol later in life.

“Teenagers need to learn to deal with stress and life situations without depending on substances like alcohol. If they are exposed to alcohol early, there is a considerable risk they will use it to overcome their problems, abandoning proper coping and problem-solving mechanism,” says George.

“The brain is developing in young people and only fully develops when they are about 18. The areas of judgment, decision-making and reasoning are especially last to develop. So if children or teenagers are exposed to alcohol earlier than this, they may not be able to make proper decisions on how much, how frequent and when to stop drinking.”

Drinking too much, of course, can have severe physical effects, and not just on the liver.

“Alcohol has a direct effect on the important areas of the brain responsible for attention, concentration and memory. Some individuals experience blackouts after the consumption of alcohol where they have no recollection of what happened during the intoxicated period.”

But as most of us know, long-term alcohol use and excessive consumption can also damage the liver by causing fat deposits in the organ. George warns that this can lead to hepatitis and then cirrhosis in the liver.

“Fatty liver disease may be reversible if the alcohol is stopped or reduced, but cirrhosis is not reversible. Furthermore, cirrhosis is a common cause of death among those below 60 in most developed parts of the world.”

Needless to say, George does not recommend driving after you drink, even if you think you haven’t had too much.

He explains: “Even low levels of alcohol consumption can cause incoordination, altered sensory functions, disinhibited behaviour and mood changes. It can worsen depressed states leading to suicide.

“And as the level of consumption rises, it can cause prolonged reaction time, nausea, double vision and mental impairment.” – by ANGELIN YEOH

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