Drinking in Adolescence May Interfere With Brain Development

By Staff Writer

Many teens view drinking alcohol as a minor offense in the grand scheme of things. However, a new study from researchers at the University of New Mexico has found that substance abuse in adolescence may cause significant damage to the brain, which may impair their learning ability and increase their chances of needing addiction treatment.

It can be taken for granted that the brains of teenagers are still developing, said Robert Thoma, who led the investigation. Introducing alcohol or other drugs into this situation may result in many changes that harm an individual’s long-term brain health.

Researchers analyzed 19 adolescents who were known to have a history of alcohol abuse and another 15 who had no history of drinking. They found that individuals who used alcohol most frequently showed a significant decrease in attention span as well as planning and assessment ability.

Thoma said that heavy drinking during the stages of life in which the brain is still developing may prevent vital areas from fully forming. This may account for some of the deficiencies noted in the study.