Teen Alcohol Use Can Cause ... Brain Damage?
Drinking can cause brain damage. Seriously.
A new study published in this month's edition of the journal Cortex contains the bad news:
Yeah -- and you though weed was bad for teens. According to the research led by Daniel F. Hermens, there are clear signs of brain malfunction when teens abuse alcohol.
A summary of the study explains it:
Functional signs of brain damage from alcohol misuse in young people mainly include deficits in visual learning and memory as well as executive functions. These functions are controlled by the hippocampus and frontal structures of the brain, which are not fully mature until around 25 years of age. Structural signs of alcohol misuse in young people include shrinking of the brain and significant changes to white matter tracts.
The researchers say that raising the legal drinking age is not the answer, however: In Australia teens start to abuse alcohol and show related problems at the same time kids stateside do. But the drinking age in Australia is 18 versus our 21.
Prevention, outreach and education is key, according to researchers:
In young alcohol misusers, these preventable and potentially reversible deficits may be progressive but if left unresolved such deficits eventually become major contributors to poor outcome.