Brain damage in young people due to alcohol use

Young people and young adults who drink (too much) can cause damage to the development of the structure of the brain. As a young drinking person, you also have a greater chance of problematic alcohol use later in life.

The brains of young people (< 18 years) and young adults (18-24 years) are developing rapidly. This happens in stages, with vital brain functions necessary for life developing first, such as processing information from the senses and motor skills. Only then does the development of the emotional brain areas (the 'pleasure area', sensitive to rewards and motivation) and the rational brain areas, such as memory, concentration, impulse control, self-control decision making, learning ability and planning follow.

Gray matter decrease

There is some evidence that alcohol consumption leads to an abnormal and accelerated decrease in gray matter volume in the brain. There are also indications that young people and young adults who drink at an early age have a higher risk of developing problem alcohol use later in life. In addition, the risk of problematic alcohol use is higher if young people start drinking (regularly) more often or at a young age. 

Binge drinking and pre-loading

Binge drinking is most common among young adults. Imbibing or pre-loading is often part of this drinking pattern. Drinking is done at home before going out and then continuing to drink while going out. One reason for imbibing is the high price of alcohol in the hospitality industry. Thanks to the imbibing, some of the revelers already arrive at the pub under the influence. Because young people participate in traffic under the influence, they run a higher risk of traffic accidents and the risk of drunkenness and alcohol-related aggression increases.

Imbibeness is closely related to binge drinking (drinking five or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion). This drinking pattern is common among young people and is often associated with going out. If they binge on a weekly or more frequent basis, this indicates heavy drinking and increases the risk of harm.

Now that the bars are not open and gatherings are not allowed, the danger of (alone) drinking at home is lurking. That topic will be discussed later this break month.




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