Post by Sarah Wilde
Adolescent binge drinking is increasing and causes long-term effects on the brain. While often considered a problem, it creates more damaging effects than just poor decisions, illegal behavior and regretful exchanges. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences, yet another study shows that binge drinking interferes with normal brain activity, in a manner which has lasting effects. Heavy alcohol consumption over 11 months “dramatically and persistently decreased” cell activity, including the division of a certain type of cells, and significantly altered certain cells, creating a lasting alcohol-induced reduction affecting development.
The study concludes that the period of adolescence is highly vulnerable to alcohol and that alcohol decreases neural turnover by altering the ongoing process of neuronal development. The lasting effect was still seen 2 months after discontinuation of alcohol. This lasting effect, the study says, may underlie the deficits in cognitive tasks that are observed in alcoholics.
The next time your teenager tells you that their drinking is “no big deal,” remind them that it actually is. Binge alcohol consumption in teenagers means that they are not only getting drunk in the moment but negatively impacting their ability to function in the future. These kids are in fact reducing hippcampal neurogenesis, which is the process of creating new neurons, and is essential to the growing brain and activities such as learning and memory. Drinking excessively after this weekend’s football game or for next weekend’s parties and events is setting up impaired memory and reasoning ability for years to come. Parents do not always seem to understand the long-term ramifications of teenage drinking. Some parents think it is the easier thing to cave into their teens desire to drink, and others choose not to know or ask too many questions.
As a parent it is our job to keep our kids healthy and set them up for a successful future. Just like sunblock is needed today to prevent cancer tomorrow, intervention on our teenagers drinking is necessary today to prevent dramatic effects to their growing brains tomorrow. If you need help, LifeSkills Authorities provides consultation to families and schools on how to speak with your kids about alcohol and its consequences. Contact us now so that we can help you educate your family and children before they’ve set unhealthy patterns that are more difficult to break.
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