A ten-year study of young adults revealed that heavy teen drinking causes changes in the volume of brain matter. Young adults experience essential brain development through the teen years; which explains why heavy alcohol consumption damages the brain early on. It is during this time that a teen’s brain develops cognitive abilities related to emotional behaviors. According to this study, there are four areas of the brain that are affected the most by alcohol consumption. The volume of the hippocampus and cerebral cortex shrink when there is a high consumption of alcohol.
Excessive teen drinking damaging
Dr. Batya Swift Yasgur mentions in his paper that metabolites in the brain begin to decrease when teen drinking increases. Studies show that changes in amino acids can alter brain structure resulting in brain atrophy, which is the hardening of matter. According to the study, histamines releasing at a faster rate causes the alcohol-induced brain damage. Histamine release is a natural response to protecting the brain from toxins. Unfortunately, they can see good brain matter as bad and attack it as well. Teen drinking, especially binge drinking, can exacerbate this natural histamine reaction.
Early intervention is critical
Teen drinking can lead to future binge drinking and future severe addiction well into adulthood. Teens can also experience worse hangover symptoms than adults. A medical director for a youth mental health center commented that the study not only gives insight into the physical consequences of binge drinking but also “challenges the social norms like binge drinking.” The study does have some good news. Although not the focus of the study, evidence suggests some changes in brain structure can be reversed when heavy alcohol consumption stops. Teen drinking has the ability to truly disrupt an individual’s life–parents must take early action for the best intervention.
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