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Help for Teens

It can sometimes be hard to talk to a parent or other adult in your life when you have questions or concerns about alcohol or other substances, gambling, mental health, or thoughts of suicide.

Your Life Iowa is here for you. Call, text or chat any time. No judgement. Just help. Our services are free and available 24/7.

Connect now with a caring and knowledgeable YLI counselor from your phone, tablet or computer. We do not require parental permission for use of our phone, text or chat services.


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Group of people holding red plastic cups of red liquidAn Iowa Youth Survey1 found that half of all 11th graders in Iowa reported drinking alcohol at some point. It's possible that you or your friends have considered trying alcohol or have already tried it before.

It's important to know that there are many risks associated with underage drinking, alcohol affects many parts of the human body, wherever water goes alcohol goes too.2 This means that regardless of age alcohol is associated with many serious health risks.



Hangover is the term used for the negative aftereffects of consuming too much alcohol. Hangovers are caused by many factors such as dehydration, exposure to acetaldehyde (the toxin alcohol produces in your body) and mini withdrawal from the effects of alcohol on the brain.3

Symptoms of a hangover include nausea, vomiting, headaches, anxiety, muscle aches, fatigue, weakness, sweating, light sensitivity and more.

 Short Takes With NIAAA: What Are Hangovers?

 Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men in roughly 2 hours. In youth, however, binge drinking is defined as only 3 drinks for girls and 3-5 drinks for boys.4

Binge drinking accounts for 90% of all alcohol consumed by teens.There are many risks associated with binge drinking, including:6

Risks associated with binge drinking

  • Higher risk of getting injured, falling or crashing your car
  • High risk for alcohol poisoning
  • Increased risk of violence
  • Could lead to memory and learning problems
  • Increased risk for certain diseases and cancers

 Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol overdose causes areas of the brain that are important for supporting life to shut down. These areas are important to control breathing and heart rate. Alcohol poisoning is extremely dangerous and can lead to impaired brain function and even death. If you think someone may be experiencing alcohol poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.7,8 

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

  • Unconscious
  • Vomiting and seizures
  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Slowed and irregular breathing
  • Low body temperature
  • Skin is pale and blue

What to do 

  • Seek medical attention right away
  • Stay with them, DO NOT leave them alone
  • Turn them on their side to prevent choking
  • Try to keep them conscious
  • Make sure they stay warm
  • Recall details about the person and how much they drank

 Consequences of Underage Drinking

While drinking may have many negative effects on a person's health like increasing risk for certain cancers and liver disease, there are many other risks associated with underage drinking. Some of the risks include:

  • Doing poorly in school (teens who drink alcohol are more likely to get bad grades than teens who don't)
  • Increased risk for depression and anxiety
  • Poor decision making (teens who drink are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors)
  • Risky sexual activity (underage drinking is associated with a higher risk of risky sexual behavior like unprotected sex, and being sexually active at a younger age)

Possible legal consequences like minor in possessions (MIP) could keep someone from being able to play sports or be in other extracurricular activities

 Addiction: Types, Causes, and Solutions (Teens)


Tips for Teens: Underage Drinking
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHAS) PDF with information about underage drinking.

Underage drinking facts
CDC webpage on drinking levels and consequences among youth.

Underage Drinking at Parties: Consequences for Teens
Talk It Out article about risks of underage drinking and how to help your teen.

The Consequences of Underage Drinking
Talk They Hear You PDF article about how alcohol and drug use can negatively impact teens.


1 2021 Iowa Youth Survey State Report. Iowa Department of Public Health, University of Northern Iowa, 2021.

2 "Where Does Alcohol Go in the Body?" The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership.

3 "Alcohol's Effects on Health: Hangovers." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

"Alcohol's Effects on Health: Understanding Binge Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

"Alcohol's Effects on Health: Get the Facts About Underage Drinking." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

6 "Alcohol and Public Health: Binge Drinking." Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

7 "Alcohol's Effects on Health: Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

"Alcohol Poisoning." Cleveland Clinic. 


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