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Effects of Binge Drinking on the Developing Brain

Binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol drinking that raises a person’s blood alcohol concentration to at least .08%, which amounts to consuming five alcoholic drinks for men and four alcoholic drinks for women in about 2 hours. It is the most common form of alcohol misuse in adolescents and young adults. Heavy drinking includes the same criterion as binge drinking, but with higher frequency (i.e...

NIH’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD Study)

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ABCD Study logo

Adolescence is the stage of life during which most people begin using alcohol, and it is also a time of considerable social, psychological, and physiological change. The brain, particularly the frontal cortex, continues to develop throughout adolescence and does not fully mature until early adulthood. Adolescent alcohol exposure can impair brain development, compromise short- and long-term...

Brain Structure and Function in Recovery

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) commonly is associated with compromise in neurobiological and/or neurobehavioral processes. The severity of this compromise varies across individuals and outcomes, as does the degree to which recovery of function is achieved. This narrative review first summarizes neurobehavioral, neurophysiological, structural, and neurochemical aberrations/deficits that are frequently...

Alcohol and Puberty: Mechanisms of Delayed Development

Adolescence represents a vulnerable period for developing youth. Alcohol use and misuse are especially problematic behaviors during this time. Adolescents are more sensitive to alcohol and less tolerant of its detrimental effects than are adults. Research in humans and animals has revealed that early alcohol consumption can result in delayed pubertal development. Animal studies have shown that...

Genes Contributing to the Development of Alcoholism: An Overview

A major goal of genetic research into alcoholism and related traits is to better understand the biology underlying this disease by identifying specific genes in which variations contribute to a person’s risk of developing the disease and then examining the pathways through which these genes and their variants affect the disease. Researchers hope to use this knowledge to develop new, more effective...

Alcohol Use Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury

Alcohol use and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are inextricably and bidirectionally linked. Alcohol intoxication is one of the strongest predictors of TBI, and a substantial proportion of TBIs occur in intoxicated individuals. An inverse relationship is also emerging, such that TBI can serve as a risk factor for, or modulate the course of, alcohol use disorder (AUD). Critically, alcohol use after...

Epigenetic Control of Gene Expression in the Alcoholic Brain

Whether a specific gene is transcribed or repressed is determined by the specific status (i.e., conformational state) of the complex of chromosomal DNA and proteins (i.e., the chromatin) and by the recruitment of specific proteins (i.e., transcription factors) to regulatory sites on the DNA (Copeland et al. 2010). Chromatin states can change as a result of enzyme-mediated covalent modifications of...

Binge Drinking’s Effects on the Developing Brain—Animal Models

Adolescence typically is a time of experimentation and emulation of adult behaviors, and many adolescents initiate alcohol and other drug (AOD) use during this developmental period. Brain development continues during adolescence, which could render the adolescent brain particularly vulnerable to alcohol’s effects. Consequently, adolescent alcohol exposure could result in long-lasting changes in...

Recovery and Youth: An Integrative Review

Although rates of alcohol and other substance use disorders in adolescents have been estimated for decades, little is known about the prevalence, pathways, and predictors of remission and long-term recovery among adolescents. This article provides an integrative review of the literature on youth recovery. A final selection of 39 relevant articles was grouped into five sections: treatment outcomes...

Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Developing Immune System

Most Americans are aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can injure the developing fetus. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), with their developmental, cognitive, and behavioral consequences, probably are the best known dangers (Bakoyiannis et al. 2014; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] 2009). However, drinking during pregnancy also can...