Okay so you’re not a kid anymore, and you are probably familiar with alcohol and its beverages. You may have seen adults, such as your parents or other family members, drink it moderately and safely! While it is normal to have the curiosity to experiment, it’s also important that you understand how its consumption can be very harmful to teenagers, not to mention illegal.

Alcohol is classified as a depressant, meaning that it slows down vital functions—resulting in slurred speech, unsteady movement, disturbed perceptions and an inability to react quickly. Most people drink for the stimulant effect, such as a beer or glass of wine, to “loosen up.” But if a person consumes more than the body can handle, they then experience alcohol’s depressant effect. They start to feel “stupid” or lose coordination and control. Alcohol overdose causes even more severe depressant effects (inability to feel pain, toxicity where the body vomits the poison, and finally unconsciousness or, worse, coma or death from severe toxic overdose).

The potential damage from the chronic use or overdose can be irreversible. As a teenager, your brain is still establishing new neuropathways and patterns designed to support you through the rest of life. Drinking at a young age can negatively impact your brain’s development, not to mention it puts you at greater risk for addiction as an adult.

Due to the effects of alcohol on your body – your vision, reaction time, sense of judgment – it is highly dangerous (and illegal!) to drink and drive. Every year drunk driving kills about 4,000 teens. Under NO circumstances is drinking and driving okay.

Even when you are confident in your decision not to use drugs or alcohol, it can be hard when it’s your friend who is offering. A lot of times, a simple “no thanks” may be enough. But sometimes it’s not. It can get intense, especially if the people who want you to join in on a bad idea feel judged. Offer to be the designated driver, keep a bottled drink like a soda or iced tea with you to drink at parties or be willing to leave the party altogether if you have to. The risks associated with alcohol use are too great.