Hi, I’m the Brain—you may know me from certain activities such as thinking, decision making, and using your five senses! I also manage vital involuntary actions like breathing and keeping a regular heartbeat. I am a like the Head Coach of your body—the actions you take come from my direction and instruction. Just like when a Head Coach tells his or her team members what to do and how to take action, I tell the rest of your body how to act and react. My job is important—I am in charge of all of the plays, strategies and decisions. If I, as the coach, am not prepared and ready to take the field, the whole team will suffer—and maybe even lose the game!
Huddle up now, team. I’m going to tell you why you should say YES to a healthy lifestyle and NO to unhealthy decisions—and in this case, that means saying no to underage drinking.
First, you should know that I—your brain—am still growing and maturing. I won’t be fully developed until I’m in my twenties. I work differently from other, older brains, such as those of your parents and teachers, and that is why some things that are accepted for adults are not accepted for children. Driving a car, living alone, and drinking alcohol are just a few of these activities.
Here is how I spend my day: I send all of my information through the body using a system of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters using a system of nerve cells called neurons. The neurotransmitters are important members of my Brain Power team—when they are wound up, my activities are stimulated, and when they are settled down, my activities are slowed down. As the Head Coach, I demand a careful balance between being excited and slowing down.
What happens when you introduce alcohol to this balance? Alcohol can boost certain members of my neurotransmitter team while at the same time slowing other members down. This mix up is very confusing—some members are relaxed while others are riled up. Teamwork is at risk here—I can’t coach properly because my team members are not working together the way we have practiced. This is not only poor gameplay, but it is also harmful to me as I continue to grow and function.
For the next couple of weeks, I’ll introduce you to the other members of my BRAIN POWER team. We will help teach you about how making good choices about saying NO to underage drinking is the best choice for your growing body. Before you go, test your knowledge with this quick quiz.