Binge-drinking: The Effects of Alcohol to your Teenager’s Brain


Drinking is more harmful to teens than it is to adults because their brains are still developing throughout adolescence. In fact, a Finnish study suggests that teens who drink heavily suffer from certain effects on their brain development.

Binge drinking or heavy drinking is said to cause young people to have less grey matter, according to the researchers. Grey matter is the one responsible for a person's memory, decision making and self-control. When this happens, this will even make teens more likely to be alcoholic.

"Substance use has been found to be connected to social exclusion, mental health problems and lower educational attainment," said lead author Noora Heikkinen of the University of Eastern Finland.

How does this happen? Researchers explain that the grey matter in one's brain contains majority of the brain's neurons and that means that it is responsible for a person's memory and decision making. The less the grey matter, the less ability to remember things and make rational or logical decisions.

And because of the brain damages caused by alcohol, it is probably the reason behind social and mental problems of individuals who abuse it, Heikkenen explained to Reuters Health.

In order to further understand the effect of alcohol to teenage brains, the researchers conducted a study among 62 young adults. 35 of them fell into the category of being heavy drinkers and the other 27 were found to be light drinkers. The heavy drinkers were found to be more likely to smoke cigarettes. And during the brain scans, heavy drinkers were also found to have smaller grey areas in their brains compared to the other group.

Heikkenen emphasized that since teenage brains are prone to damage during adolescence, parents and teachers should be looking out on their children's alcohol consumption.

"Teenage years are very important for brain development, and alcohol can tamper with this process," Heikkinen said.

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