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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Heavy Drinking Alters Brain in Adolescents

For young people whose brain is still developing, heavy alcohol use may be more detrimental than previously thought, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital. 

The study, which was published in Addiction Biology, followed 27 adolescents who had been heavy drinkers throughout their adolescence, as well as 25 participants with little or no alcohol use. At the onset of the study, the participants were 13 to 18 years old. 

They found that long-term heavy use of alcohol in adolescence alters brain activity, namely the function of the GABA neurotransmission system. GABA plays a key role in anxiety, depression and the pathogenesis of several neurological disorders. The adolescents’ brain activity was analyzed using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) combined with simultaneous electroencephalogram (EEG) recording.

Researchers say that the findings warrant two questions: Whether the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders should be tighter for adolescents and whether they should be more easily referred to treatment. 

Long-Term Alcohol Use and Your Health
Although the negative effects often take time to manifest, heavy drinking has been found to wreak havoc on many parts of the body beyond the brain – causing well over 60 diseases, according to researchers. Here are a few of the more common health conditions linked with the abuse of alcohol:  
  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Gout
  • Heart Attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Infectious disease, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Nerve damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

Alcohol Abuse Help for You or Your Loved One
Young adults make up 31.5 percent of alcoholics, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA). Hope Academy's safe and supportive environment is ideal for teens and young adults to share their concerns, set  sobriety goals, and begin the road to recovery. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

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