Monday, September 21, 2009
The younger you start drinking the more problems you will have! Studies have now shown that if you start drinking below the age of 15, when your brain is not fully developed, it could inadvertently start a snowball effect by bringing to light one's predisposition towards alcoholism. Taking that first drink at a young age, "may induce changes in the highly sensitive adolescent brain, which may also modify an individual's subsequent genetic vulnerability to [alcohol dependence]", states Arpana Agrawal, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine and an author of the study, said in a university news release". Alcohol has the ability to change the biology of one's brain by altering particular cells. This study of 6,257 adult twins was published on September 18 and will be in print in the December issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
"Those who had their first drink later in life showed far fewer signs of alcohol dependency, despite the genetic predisposition", Agrawal noted according to the Health Daily News. This idea makes sense, considering all the new understandings we have of the brain and its development; the more time the brain is given to develop, the less chance of dependency developing. The brain is a fragile organ that is "impressionable"; protecting the brain at the adolescent age is of the utmost importance. It is so crucial that we educate the youth to the dangers of alcohol, if kids think that the effects of alcohol are minor, then they will be more inclined to drink. The average kid may not have anything to worry about; however, there are a percentage of people who carry the gene of alcoholism which can be brought to life at a time when the brain is immature; inevitably, the disease will be brought into action and quitting will be impossible without help.
Carol A. Prescott, a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California, said the findings had two possible conclusions. "Early drinking changes the course an individual is on, and is thus a direct cause of increased [alcohol dependency] risk, and early drinking is correlated with [alcohol dependency] risk and is thus an indirect indicator of ... risk," she said in the news release. Agrawal believes that we can use the findings of the study to help educate parents so that they can educate their children. "The researchers plan to do a similar study that looks at older and younger groups in Australia and the United States to try to duplicate their findings", reports the Health Daily News. Education is one of the only defenses against the disease of addiction, a preemptive strike is necessary in this battle to protect our youth.