Navigation Links
Drinking in Adolescence May Lead to Risky Choices Later

Study showed young rats made poor decisions long after they were sober

MONDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- In a study that shows that doing JELL-O shots is never a good idea, adolescent rats that consumed alcohol-laced gel were more likely to make risky decisions long after the alcohol had worn off.

Though the research was done with animals, researchers said human teenagers who drink to excess could experience similar, long-lasting effects.

In the study, researchers assigned young rats to one of two groups. The first had access to an alcohol-laced gel for 20 days. The rats liked the taste and consumed large quantities of the substance, the equivalent of several shots of whiskey daily in a human. A second group of rats was given no alcohol.

After three weeks and again at three months -- long after the rats had sobered up and were considered adults -- the rats that had consumed alcohol when they were younger were more likely to make poor decisions.

"We believe it's an effect of alcohol on the developing adolescent brain that causes them to perform differently in decision-making tasks later on," said senior study author Ilene Bernstein, a psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The report will be published in the Sept. 21-25 online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous studies have shown that early alcohol consumption is a risk factor for later substance abuse and other risky behavior, Bernstein said.

But researchers have not been able to establish if the poor decision-making and propensity for risk-taking in adulthood was a personality trait in people, or if the alcohol itself could have an impact on the teenaged brain, altering behavior and thought processes down the line.

"We believe their brains have been changed in such a way that when it comes to making decisions, they are less able to make good decisions," Bernstein said.

In the experiment, hungry adult rats were given the choice between pressing two levers: the first lever dispensed two sugar pellets each time, while the second lever dispensed four pellets, but not all of the time. Sometimes, nothing came out.

The rats that had been exposed to alcohol were more likely to continue to press the lever with the uncertain outcome, even though over time it resulted in less pellets.

"For some reason, the rats were choosing the risky lever at higher levels than the controls, even when it was costing them," Bernstein said. "They were not performing optimally. They were making risky, poor choices."

A similar effect may be playing out in teenagers who drink to excess, Bernstein said.

Alcohol is known to be toxic during early development. Alcohol consumption by mothers during gestation can cause birth defects and fetal alcohol syndrome.

"The adolescent brain is still developing and growing," Bernstein said. "The same mechanisms that impair brain growth early on may also leave the adolescent brain vulnerable to alcohol effects. Perhaps the brain has a longer period of vulnerability than most people have appreciated."

It's well known that people under the influence of alcohol or drugs take bigger risks, said Dr. Adam Bisaga, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York City.

One of the concerns with teens is that their lack of maturity and experience may contribute to their making very bad, dangerous decisions when they're under the influence, Bisaga said.

"This study goes beyond that even, showing that it's not just when you are getting drunk or high that you make bad decisions, but there could be some long-lasting effects of using alcohol on behavior," Bisaga said.

Teen alcohol use is a serious public health problem, Bernstein said. The earlier the exposure, the more likely someone will have a substance abuse problem later in life.

"This research raises a concern that if the brain is permanently changed by alcohol we need to place more emphasis on preventing adolescent alcohol use," Bernstein said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more on teens and substance abuse.

SOURCES: Ilene Bernstein, Ph.D., professor, psychology, University of Washington, Seattle; Adam Bisaga, M.D., associate professor, clinical psychiatry, division on substance abuse, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City; Sept. 21-25, 2009, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Binge Drinking May Encourage Infection
2. Lower Drinking Age Linked to Later-Life Problems
3. Drinking, Weight, Depression Linked in Young Women: Study
4. Internet Can Help Curb Drinking Among College Students
5. Home Filtering Systems Provide Best Drinking Water Protection
6. Heavy-drinking colleges showing no improvements
7. Drinking While Pregnant Poses a Serious Risk to Children, Health Department Reminds Women
8. Rate of teen binge drinking cut more than 1/3 by prevention system
9. Driving After Binge Drinking More Common Than Believed
10. Pot Might Blunt Damage of Binge Drinking
11. Drinking Moderately or More Ups Mens Cancer Risk
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Drinking in Adolescence May Lead to Risky Choices Later
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Inevitably when people think Thanksgiving, they ... to buy during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday massage chair sales ... the Internet high and low to find the best massage chair deals, they can ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , ... November 26, 2015 , ... ... real-time eReferral system for diagnostic imaging in the Waterloo region. Using the Ocean ... Nuclear Medicine tests directly from their electronic medical record (EMR) without the need ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Somu ... As a franchise owner, Somu now offers travelers, value and care based Travel ... private cruise sales, as well as, cabin upgrades and special amenities such as, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... The Catalent Applied Drug Delivery ... to integrate dose form selection in early phase drug development. The first of ... and bringing together the UK’s emerging life sciences companies, corporate partners, and investors, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... ... November 26, 2015 , ... Jobs in hospital medical ... professionals and offered by healthcare staffing agency Aureus Medical Group . ... of October 2015 among those searching for healthcare jobs through the company’s website, ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 3D bioprinting market is ... a new report by Grand View Research Inc. Rising prevalence ... demands kidney transplantation is expected to boost the market growth, ... organ transplantation. --> 3D bioprinting market is ... a new report by Grand View Research Inc. Rising prevalence ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... Research and Markets ( ) ... Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in the Japanese ... Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, Emerging Opportunities" report ... --> This new 247-page report ... drug monitoring market, including emerging tests, technologies, instrumentation, ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... 2015 ) ... "2016 Future Horizons and Growth Strategies in ... Supplier Shares, Country Segment Forecasts, Competitive Intelligence, ... --> ) has announced ... Horizons and Growth Strategies in the French ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: