Alcohol is dangerous for developing brains

Published 7:43 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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April marks the end of Winter and the beginning of yet another season, leading us into the long days of Summer. Many of us will try to spend as much time as we can in the coming months enjoying the outdoors – whether that be on our patios, one of Louisiana’s waterways, or a favorite vacation spot.
But with the fun that Summer brings, there is also a danger all of us must be mindful of: children being under the influence of alcohol and marijuana. That is why April also marks Alcohol Responsibility Month, and it should serve as a great reminder to parents that now is the time to have a conversation with your child about the dangers of underage drinking.
As a father, I would do anything to protect my child; and as attorney general, I am working hard to help keep your kids safe. And as your AG, I must remind all citizens that underage drinking is illegal. What’s more: it is also very dangerous – even when not connected to drinking and driving or being on the water. Research has shown that alcohol can have adverse effects on developing brains, which can then affect learning, responsiveness and more.
Marijuana, on the other hand, slows down the responsiveness of the brain, causing users to be “spaced out.” While some might consider this heightened awareness, it actually results in the exact opposite. That is why it is so important for parents to discuss the dangers of alcohol and marijuana with their children early and often to prevent harm to the brain, themselves or others.
Studies have shown that parents are the leading influence in their child’s decision to drink or not drink alcohol. Parents are also considered the ultimate role models for what is and is not acceptable behavior. That is why I have worked closely with<>, an organization that has been dedicated to eliminating underage drinking for more than 30 years, to help parents have these conversations and influence wise decision making. And through the underage drinking prevention program called Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix – we have been able to connect parents to the resources they need to communicate the seriousness of this situation to their children.
I encourage you to please have meaningful conversations with your kids on the importance of being responsible. Let them know that underage drinking is illegal and dangerous. Teach them how their brains are still growing, which makes the effects of alcohol greater for them than for adults. And please do not worry about the conversations being perfect; the only bad conversation is the one you do not have. Lead by example; inspire your children to make healthy decisions. And establish trust so your kids can come to you when they need you the most.
I am so grateful to the parents and caregivers across our State who keep our children safe and substance-free. I pray we all have a healthy and happy Summer, and I hope we enter the Fall relaxed and energized. Please help make that possible by talking to your children today.


Jeff Landry is the elected attorney general of Louisiana.