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Brain Studies Can Tell Which Teens May Become Alcoholic Even Before They Have Their First Drink

Alcohol abuse impacts several lives each year. When a teenager starts abusing alcohol, it can be a challenge for the entire family. According to the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, roughly 5,000 individuals who are younger than 21 die in relation to alcohol each year. Injuries from accidents, homicides and suicides account for the majority of alcohol-related deaths that kill teenagers each year, says the National Institutes on Health. Although it may seem surprising, there are ways to determine if a teenager is likely to develop alcohol problems before he or she starts drinking alcohol.

The Teen Brain

Teenagers are not yet fully grown or developed. The brain is still developing and changing, explains the National Institute on Mental Health. The part of the brain that helps control impulses or that plans for the future is still in the middle of developing until a teenager reaches adulthood. On average, the human brain is not fully developed until the early 20s. Since the portion of the brain that is still growing and developing is related to impulse control and planning, it can be a risky period of life. It is particularly risky for teenagers who are abusing alcohol because the substance can prevent the brain from developing in an appropriate manner.

Studies and New Information

According to Youth Health Magazine, new studies are being developed to help identify children and teenagers who have a higher risk of developing an addiction to alcohol or other alcohol-related problems. A recent study that was developed by two neuroscientists discovered that there is a correlation between impulsivity and the risk of developing an addiction to alcohol, explains Youth Health Magazine. Teenagers who have a strong connection between the insular and prefrontal cortices of the brain are less likely to engage in impulsive and potentially dangerous behaviors. In other words, recent brain studies on teen alcoholism show that we can see who is more likely to develop alcoholism, even if they have never had a drink. When there is a strong connection between the insular and prefrontal cortices, the risk of abusing alcohol is low. Individuals who have a weak connection between the two cortices are more likely to engage in risky behavior. When alcohol abuse occurs, the teenager is more likely to develop an addiction or alcohol-related health concerns due to binge drinking or consistent alcohol abuse.

Potential Risks of Alcohol Abuse

Medical Daily states that the cortices of the brain are not fully developed until young women are around 21 years old and young men are around 25 years old. Since the cortex is the area of the brain that helps individuals and adults determine the long and short-term consequences of certain behaviors, it can be a factor that contributes to the risks associated with alcohol abuse. The risks associated with alcohol abuse are not limited to the possibility of an accident. Binge drinking can cause alcohol poisoning and there is a possibility of addiction when a substance is abused for an extended period of time.

Taking Measures to Prevent Abuse

New studies are showing positive changes to the possibility of preventing alcohol abuse and addiction. By identifying teenagers who have a high risk of developing an addiction to alcohol, it is possible to take measures to prevent the use of alcohol before it can cause health concerns. Although the exact cause of addiction and the risks are still being studied, identifying a factor that may contribute to alcohol abuse can be an essential part of preventing alcohol abuse before it can start. Contact us at 877-466-0620 to learn more about our addiction treatment services.