Heavy alcohol use changes adolescents’ brains

Heavy alcohol use during adolescence alters the development of brain, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital. Cortical thinning was observable in young people who had been heavy drinkers throughout their adolescence. The findings were published in Addiction.

The study performed magnetic resonance imaging of the brain structure on young and healthy, but heavy-drinking adults who had been heavy drinkers throughout their adolescence, as well as on age-matched light-drinking control participants. They participated in three cross-sectional studies conducted over the course of ten years, in 2005, 2010 and 2015. The participants were 13 to 18 years old at the onset of the study.

All participants were academically successful, and the prevalence of mental health problems did not differ between the two groups. Although the heavy-drinking participants had used alcohol regularly for ten years, approximately 6-9 units roughly once a week, none of them had a diagnosed alcohol use disorder.

Full story of alcohol use and adolescent brain health at Science Daily

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Will Savage

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