Archive for category Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Affects Brain Development In Teens, Study Says

Teenagers are undergoing several physiological developments, but a recent study showed that incorrect habits may disrupt the normal changes in them.

teen alcohol abuseA comprehensive study by researchers of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) revealed how alcohol consumption can affect the brain development in adolescents. Study lead author Susan Tapert said that the team’s study is one of the largest of its kind to investigate the effect of alcohol on teenage development. “This study was a little bit larger than previous studies since it started out with 130 adolescents before they had tried any alcohol and followed them over several years,” Tapert said in a news item.

Effects of alcohol were imminent in the way teenage girls were doing in school. “For girls who had been engaging in heavy drinking during adolescence, it looks like they’re performing more poorly on tests of spatial functioning, which links to mathematics, engineering kinds of functions,” Tapert said. Meanwhile, male teens may find difficulty focusing on things when they drink alcohol. “For boys who engaged in binge drinking during adolescence, we see poor performance on tests of attention — so being able to focus on something that might be somewhat boring, for a sustained period of time,” Tapert added.

The reason behind this, according to the study proponents, is the ongoing set of changes in teenage bodies. “Adolescent brains are still developing even into their early 20s, and alcohol can harm how the brain develops,” the study lead author expressed.

Details of the study were published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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Alcohol Abuse in Adulthood Traced To Binge Drinking in Teenage Years

Teenagers engaged in frequent binge drinking are highly likely to abuse alcohol when they reach adulthood, a study finds.

drinking alcoholThis was revealed by a group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine when they investigated the effects of teen binge drinking in the human body. According to a news release, the study involved administering alcohol to rats for two days without any other food except water. The schedule of administration was repeated over a course of 13 days, after which the animals were checked whether they preferred to drink alcohol or water.

Results revealed that the alcohol-receiving rodents exhibited anxiety and preferred alcohol over water. According to the researchers, this abnormal behavior in the test subjects was because of changes in the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes emotions and decision-making. Previous studies have confirmed that alcohol intoxication can cause damage in the said parts of the brain.

Although the study was conducted on lab rats, the same trend might be translated to humans, particularly on how histone proteins and DNA genes are affected by the malfunction of the amygdala. “Genes that lie within DNA that is tightly wrapped around the histones are less active than they are if the DNA is loosely wrapped… The looser the DNA is coiled, the more accessible are the genes to the cellular machinery that makes relevant proteins,” said study lead author Dr. Subhash C. Pandey, who also works as director of the university’s neuroscience alcoholism research center.

Study findings were published in the Neurobiology of Disease journal.

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More Than Half of Pregnant Teenagers Use Drugs and Alcohol

Pregnancy is a highly sensitive condition for many women, but a large proportion of teenage pregnancies are jeopardized by use of alcohol and drugs.

drinking and smoking pregnant womanThis was reported by a recent study by The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, in which Christopher Salas-Wright and a team of researchers investigated a possible link between teenage pregnancy and substance abuse. The research team discovered that 59 percent of pregnant teenagers have used drugs or alcohol for the past 12 months. It also revealed that 34 percent of pregnant adolescents aged 12 to 14 used controlled substances in the past 30 days prior to the survey. Details of the study were published in the Addictive Behaviors’ Spring 2015 edition.

The study used data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2012, specifically on teenage girls 12 to 17 years old. Out of the representative sample of 97,850 female adolescents, 810 of them declared that they were with child. Questions from the survey included use of illicit substances such as cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamines, and alcohol.

According to a news release by UT, alcohol tops the most commonly used substances by pregnant teens, pegged at 16 percent. Cannabis and other illicit substances follow suit at 14 and 5 percent, respectively.

Salas-Wright, an assistant professor at UT, said that their study was the largest research on teenage pregnancy and substance use. The team emphasized the importance of information to prevent substance use by pregnant teens. “Mothers’ substance use during pregnancy can have important consequences for the health and development of newborn babies. Despite efforts to prevent substance use among pregnant teens, our findings suggest that we still have a lot of work to do,” said Salas-Wright.

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Risk of Teenage Binge Drinking Heightened by TV Alcohol Ads Exposure

A new study warns parents about exposing their adolescent kids to TV advertisements, because they might acquire a bad habit in the future.

exposure tv alcohol ads teenage binge drinkingThe study, conducted by researchers from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, involved a survey through telephone and online channels between 2011 and 2013. More than 2,500 participants between the ages of 15 and 23 were asked to recall a television advertisement of any alcohol product from 2010 to 2011. The survey data were cross-referenced with the drinking habits of the participants.

Results showed that teenagers and young adults who were exposed to alcohol ads on TV were more likely to engage in binge drinking and other forms of dangerous alcohol consumption. The percentage of survey participants who had seen TV alcohol ads were 23.4% for ages 15-17, 22.7% for 18-20 age, and 25.6% for those aged 21-23. Binge drinking for all age groups accounted for 29 percent of the survey population.

Because of the results arising from the study, the researchers believe that the current efforts to hinder underage drinking and lawless alcohol intake are not effective. “Our study found that familiarity with and response to images of television alcohol marketing was associated with the subsequent onset of drinking across a range of outcomes of varying severity among adolescents and young adults, adding to studies suggesting that alcohol advertising is one cause of youth drinking,” said the study proponents as published in a news report. “Current self-regulatory standards for televised alcohol advertising appear to inadequately protect underage youth from exposure to televised alcohol advertising and its probable effect on behavior.”

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Study: Teens With Head Injury Likely To Abuse Alcohol and Drugs

Be watchful when your children suffer a concussion, because the likelihood of them engaging in drugs and alcohol may have increased.

teen traumatic brain injury drug alcohol useThis finding was discovered by a group of Canadian researchers whose study was based on a nationwide health survey on children from Grades 9 to 12. Results of the study suggested that high school students who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion were up to four times more likely to use illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine than those who were spared from any head trauma. The group of students who had TBI also had higher likelihood of alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.

Study co-author Dr. Michael Cusimano, who works as neurosurgeon in Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, expressed his astonishment in the findings. “It’s a really toxic combination when you have the two together… And it’s alarming how early this is occurring. This is Grade 9 to Grade 12,” said Cusimano in a news item.

What’s worse is that the drug and alcohol abuse can be aggravating for people who are recovering from TBI. “They can’t participate as well in the rehab, and they don’t recover their original abilities as well as people who have not been using drugs and alcohol,” he stated.

Although only about 5 percent of kids will probably experience getting hit on the head — and majority of them through sports activities — the health effects of a head trauma are devastating, according to study co-lead Dr. Robert Mann of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “What we found in this research is that these injuries are more common than we would have thought… and that also there does appear to be a cluster with these injuries of problematic behaviour, substance abuse and mental health concerns,” Mann said.

The researchers hope that the study will be a reminder for parents to check on their children who underwent TBI, and ask if they’re using alcohol or drugs.

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Binge Drinking Associated With Brain Malfunction in Teenagers

According to a new study, teenagers may suffer from brain damage during later years when they engage in binge drinking now.

teen alcohol drinkingResearchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst found a link between teen binge drinking and reduction in brain protection. The researchers looked into a substance called myelin, a material that improves electrical impulse transfers across the nervous system. Loss of myelin has been linked to impairment of brain functioning as well as neurodegenerative autoimmune diseases.

The study involved testing laboratory mice that were given access to free-flowing sweetened alcohol during the adolescent stage, with a control group receiving sweetened water only. Results showed that as the test rats grew, the group that drank alcohol were found to have lower myelin levels in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.

Study co-author Dr. Heather Richardson said that the results may confirm previous studies about the effects of teen binge drinking on overall brain processing. “Our study provides novel data demonstrating that alcohol drinking early in adolescence causes lasting myelin deficits in the prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest that alcohol may negatively affect brain development in humans and have long-term consequences on areas of the brain that are important for controlling impulses and making decisions,” Richardson said in a news release.

In addition to this, rats exposed to alcohol were found to have poorer memory. This could translate to memory and learning impairment in people who engage in excessive alcohol consumption.

The study authors are hopeful that their discovery could be used to investigate the importance of myelin in preventing schizophrenia, Tourette syndrome and other psychiatric disorders.

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