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Adolescent Alcohol Tolerance

by James Heller 23. April 2009 08:32
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  
Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

One side effect to adolescent alcohol abuse and binge drinking is tolerance.  To put it simply, tolerance occurs when regular drinking results in a person needing more alcohol to get the effect they are seeking.  This effect ensures that when teens abuse alcohol on a regular basis, they will drink more on each occasion as time goes on.

Whether or not genetics is responsible is an interesting question.  Studies like the one sited below get mixed results.  Knowing if alcohol tolerance during adolescence is sign of genetic alcoholism could save a lot of lives.  Until we find a way to preempt the pain of alcoholism, though, awareness of adolescent alcohol abuse will help.

Both parents and teens should learn alcohol’s effect on the adolescent brain and body.  Teens that are made aware of the pattern of tolerance may be more likely to agree to adolescent alcohol treatment.  And parents armed with this knowledge can be more persuasive.

The excerpt below was found at the Addiction Technology Transfer Center website.

-- Begin external content --

Despite numerous studies in recent years, "still very little is known about the long-term effects of alcohol consumption on adolescents," said Linda Patia Spear, Distinguished Professor in the department of psychology and the Center for Developmental Psychobiology at Binghamton University. "In humans, a substantial number of studies have shown that the earlier individuals start using alcohol, the more likely they are to have alcohol-related problems in adulthood, although it is not known whether this early exposure is causal or is just a marker for problematic alcohol involvement. In studies using laboratory animals, there are likewise some initial hints that adolescent alcohol exposure influences later sensitivity to alcohol, although the available data to date are mixed, and studies often do not include adult-exposure comparison groups so it is not clear as to whether these effects are more or less pronounced than would be seen after equivalent exposure in adulthood."

Despite the lack of consistent data, Matthews said two factors – the developmental nature of adolescence, and recent national reports of growing use and abuse of alcohol by adolescents – underscore the need for additional information. He and his colleagues will next investigate the effects of CIE exposure during adolescence on genetic expression in the brain, the activity of single neurons in the brain, and the biochemical mechanisms producing these effects.

-- Source: http://www.nattc.org/explore/priorityareas/science/tools/asmeDetails.asp?ID=164

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.