facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

How Early Heavy Drinking Hurts the Brain

Visual learning and memory are affected long-term. But researchers don't recommend raising the legal drinking age.

Image: 

Parts of the brain do not fully mature until the
age of 25. Photo via

By Valerie Tejeda

01/31/13

| Share

More and more evidence indicates that heavy drinking in your younger years has long-term effects on the brain, according to a new review of research published in the journal Cortex. The damage caused can lead to impaired visual learning and memory—functions like these are controlled by the hippocampus and frontal structures of the brain, which don't reach full maturity until the age of about 25, hence their vulnerability earlier in life. Structural signs of alcohol abuse in youth reportedly also include overall shrinking of the brain and "changes to white matter tracts." Perhaps surprisingly, the researchers don't believe that raising the legal drinking age is the answer, citing that Australian youths, despite being able to drink three years sooner than their US counterparts at age 18, the average age at which they start drinking is no lower. Instead, they emphasize the importance of identifying drinking problems early, allowing early interventions to protect young brains.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
Sober Living
World Cup and Alcoholism

The final game between Germany and Argentina is this Sunday, but is the greatest global sporting event a perfect storm for alcoholism? Our Argentinean correspondent reports . . . .

The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu
 
 
 
 
 

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery
 
 
 
 

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center
 
 
 
 

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 

Reflections
 
 
 
 

This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab
 
 
 
 
 

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv