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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...

Alcohol’s Effects on the Brain: Neuroimaging Results in Humans and Animal Models

Brain imaging technology has allowed researchers to conduct rigorous studies of the dynamic course of alcoholism through periods of drinking, sobriety, and relapse and to gain insights into the effects of chronic alcoholism on the human brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have distinguished alcohol-related brain effects that are permanent from those that are reversible with abstinence...

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 Cannabis Use and the Developing Brain

Introduction

Adolescence is marked by significant social, emotional, cognitive, and physical changes, as individuals transition from childhood to adulthood. Although the exact definition of adolescence tends to vary, recent findings regarding adolescent development and growth include individuals between the ages of 10 and 24.1 Consistent with this defined age range, the human brain continues to...

Alcohol's Effect on Host Defense

Alcohol has been the most common substance of use and abuse in human history. Moderate amounts of alcohol are enjoyed for its anxiolytic effects; however, its addictive properties can lead to chronic, excessive alcohol use and alcohol use disorder. In addition to its commonly recognized behavioral effects, alcohol affects many organs, including the immune system that controls the body’s defense...

Binge Drinking’s Effects on the Body

Alcohol misuse is the fifth-leading risk factor for premature death and disability worldwide, and, adjusting for age, alcohol is the leading risk factor for mortality and the overall burden of disease in the 15 to 59 age group. According to the World Health Organization, in 2004, 4.5% of the global burden of disease and injury was attributable to alcohol: 7.4% for men and 1.4% for women.

Alcohol and the Adolescent Brain: What We’ve Learned and Where the Data Are Taking Us

Introduction

The past 50 years of research supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have resulted in an accumulation of invaluable data to address the multifaceted problems surrounding underage drinking. Youth use of alcohol remains a pervasive social and public health concern in the United States and a leading cause of disability and mortality during...

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...

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...

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...