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Alcohol and Brain Damage
Alcohol and brain damage are not necessarily connected: many people use alcohol in moderation and do not suffer ill effects. But used immoderately, alcohol can lead to brain damage. This article explains the connections between alcohol and brain damage.
About Alcohol and Brain Damage
Brain damage can occur either before birth or after birth. If it occurs after birth, it may be referred to as acquired brain injury, and if it is explicitly linked to alcohol, it can be called Alcohol-Related Brain Injury (ARBI). Alcohol consumption can lead to brain injury in a variety of ways, some of which are linked to alcohol dependence, and some of which are not.
How Alcohol Can Cause Brain Damage
In general, alcohol can lead to brain damage because:
The Risk Factors for ARBI
How great the risk of Alcohol-Related Brain Injury is depends on a number of factors:
Age is a factor because alcohol use can be more harmful to people under 21, and their brains, in particular, are less tolerant of the presence of alcohol, even if the teens do not engage in heavy drinking consistently. Research on young people aged 14 to 21 by the American Medical Association (AMA) has showed that those who consumed alcohol had smaller hippocampi and damage to their cerebral cortexes. The first of these brain areas is involved in learning and memory, while the second has to do with reasoning and decision-making. Doubling the consumption is required for adults to experience the same level of damage. Teens using alcohol also exhibited more difficulty with learning tasks and were more likely to have difficulties in school, as well as more likely to experience mood disorders, social problems, and become involved in violence.
Types of ARBI
Ten million alcoholics in the United States, i.e., about half, have brain impairments that can be characterized as mild to severe thinking and emotional difficulties. Two million are so affected as to require custodial care. The types of ARBI disorder include the following:
Because the results of ARBI can be so catastrophic and far-reaching, the best approach is to prevent teen drinking in the first place. However, experts say that - at least in some cases - teens who drink may recover from some of the effects of ARBI because their youth does provide greater powers of recuperation, provided they receive proper assistance and treatment.
"Alcohol and Brain Damage" James L. Holly, M.D. : setma.com
"Alcohol and Brain Damage" Better Health Channel of Australia: mental-health-matters.com
"Link Between Underage Drinking and Brain Damage" Family Guide: family.samhsa.gov
"Underage Drinkers at Higher Risk of Brain Damage than Adults American Medical Association Report Reveals" Alcohol Policy MD: alcoholpolicymd.com
Related Article: Alcohol and Substance Abuse >>