-- Robert Preidt
SATURDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- Teens and young adults
who binge drink during spring break or at any other time may be
risking brain damage, an expert warns.
Binge drinking, defined in this case as the consumption of four
alcoholic drinks by males and three drinks by females in a day,
could be a sign of alcohol dependency or addiction, said Dr. Alicia
Ann Kowalchuk, medical director of the InSight alcohol and drug
intervention program at the Harris County Hospital District in
The brain continues to develop through age 25, Kowalchuk said,
and alcohol, particularly episodes of binge drinking, affects the
prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that handles impulse
control and decision making.
"The developmental delay of this area of the brain caused by binge drinking can make it hard for young people to make healthy choices about acceptable alcohol use and impulse control [later in life], some being more prone to alcohol abuse and addiction," Kowalchuk said in a Harris County Hospital District news release.
Drinking can have other health consequences for young people,
"Alcohol impairs good judgment and exposes teens and young adults to make irrational decisions like drinking and driving, riding with someone who's been drinking, engaging in unintended or unprotected sex, or committing criminal activities," said Kowalchuk, who is also an assistant professor in the family and community medicine department at Baylor College of Medicine, also in Houston.
Parents need to have forthright and consistent talks with their
children early in life about the dangers of alcohol, she
"If they hear anything that sounds middle of the road, they hear 'yes to drinking,'" Kowalchuk said. "Any ambiguity as a parent will be interpreted as an approval for drinking. The clear message needs to be that alcohol is not acceptable because it's not safe or good for your developing brain."
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has
talking to children about alcohol.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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