Adolescent drinking inhibits future verbal learning and memory performance: Study

Adolescent drinking inhibits future verbal learning and memory performance: Study

Alcohol consumption can take a serious toll on a person’s health. And if the person consuming it is an adolescent, the consequences can be even more serious. Prolonged heavy drinking or binge drinking can cause unimaginable damage, not only to the health and relationships of the person, but also to the society in terms of crime, accidents, and violence.

According to experts, binge drinking among students of grades eighth to 12th can affect their neurocognitive development. A recent study by the Research Society on Alcoholism aimed to determine whether moderate or heavy drinking in adolescents was linked with future performance in tests pertaining to verbal learning and memory (VLM), and if adolescents witness definitive changes in learning and memory due to the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Alcohol consumption during adolescence affected VLM performance

The researchers analyzed 112 participants who were into drinking during adolescence. They gave VLM assessments to each participant at two stages of life: first at 12-16 years of age, which is prior to the commencement of drinking habit, and second, nearly after six years. Taking into account the alcohol involvement of the participants at the follow-up, the researchers categorized them into three groups – moderate drinkers who took four or less drinks per occasion, binge drinkers who took 5 or more drinks per occasion, and extreme binge drinkers who were involved in over 10 drinks per occasion.

The results revealed that VLM performance of the participants took a setback based on the amount of alcohol consumed. In case of heaviest drinkers, the attainment of nonverbal information also appeared to be effected. It was also observed that there was nearly 50 percent more boys categorized under extreme binge drinker group, as compared with moderate and binge drinker groups. However, no specific gender difference in VLM performance was noted.

In fact, the finding coincided with the fact that high school boys outnumbered all age groups, with approximately three times higher probability to become extreme binge drinkers.

Dangers of binge drinking in adolescence

Adolescence is a critical age when many begin to experiment with alcohol. Since the adolescent brain is rapidly changing, it is more vulnerable to both external and internal disruptions. Thus, people are exposed to long-term consequences of excessive alcohol consumption at this stage.

In fact, a related study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research in 2015 said that an excessive exposure to alcohol during adolescence could permanently damage the brain. The study also revealed that young adults can experience enduring abnormalities, which can affect their memory and ability to learn. Moreover, binge drinking could lead to a marked reduction in emotional maturity.

Another related study, conducted in 2015 by the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, showed that heavy drinking can alter brain development and disrupt gene regulation, the effects of which can persist even during adulthood.

Seeking remedy

Underage drinking has always been a matter of concern for medical practitioners, lawmakers and law enforcement agencies. With 23 percent of youth aged 12-20 years involved in drinking in 2013 alone, as per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), America is fighting a tough battle to safeguard the country’s youth from the clutches of alcohol.

If you or your loved one requires help for alcohol abuse, seek assistance from one of the reputed alcohol addiction treatment facilities in America. The 24/7 Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California can connect you to one of the best alcohol rehab centers in California. You may call us at 855-980-1715 or chat online to know more about alcohol treatment centers in California.

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