Health Team

Study: Binge drinking damages teen brains

Posted April 4, 2011

— A new study on the effects of heavy alcohol use on teenage brains shows that binge drinking among teens can lead to lower intelligence and impulsive behavior, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Researchers used laboratory mice to simulate the teenage brain. They found that brains that are still growing are more open to damage from heavy alcohol drinking than adult brains.
Between the ages of 12 and 20, researchers say, a lot of critical brain development takes place and surveys show that people in this age group are drinking more and more.
When eighth graders were asked if they had done any heavy alcohol drinking in the last two weeks, 12 percent said "yes."
That's compared to 22 percent of tenth graders and 28 percent of high school seniors. When teens go to college, that number jumps to 44 percent.

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • NC Reader Apr 7, 2011

    carrboroyouth -- The drinking age is lower in European countries and they are experiencing a terrible problem with alcohol abuse. Studies have shown that European countries generally have much higher binge drinking rates among young people than in the United States. In Britain, Ireland, and Denmark, these binge drinking levels among young people are twice as high as in the United States. There is also strong research showing that when we raised the drinking age to 21, alcohol traffic fatalities and injuries dropped dramatically.

  • zProt Apr 7, 2011

    And human brains are just like MICE brains, folks.

    Authoritarians will believe anything so long it suits their point of view.

  • deton8tor Apr 6, 2011

    "Researchers used laboratory mice to simulate the teenage brain."

    This is not a valid test since the brain of a mouse is obviously larger and more well developed than that of a teenager.

  • BrightLight Apr 5, 2011

    I read recently that a teenager ran over a kid while driving after he had illegally smoked a dozen cigarettes in a row. Obviously what we need here is more education to address this serious problem. I propose that the beer companies, since they constantly run such cool and effective advertisements on TV(and tobacco can't run any), be required to add a public service announcement at the end of each ad they run. This PSA would warn teenagers about the dangers of binge smoking.

  • carrboroyouth Apr 5, 2011

    Lower the drinking age and I can promise you that binge drinking will drop considerably. I'm telling ya, when you force drinking to be done behind closed doors, binge drinking becomes the thing to do. If you can't drink in public, many chose to binge drink, then go out in public.
    Remove the law and its no longer something special or rebellious.

    But then again my pre-frontal cortex isn't entirely developed so I probably have no idea what I am saying. I drink but I do not binge drink... never will.

  • bigal02282 Apr 5, 2011

    I'm wondering why "drain Bramage" didn't make it past the censors. hmmmmmmmm

  • delilahk2000 Apr 5, 2011


  • RMC10 Apr 5, 2011

    We attended a Drugs Uncovered parent meeting last week. It too was full of statistics on underage drinking, marijuana and tobacco use in underage teens. Lots of similar statistics, without citing the study, the number of teens studied, the year of the study. And at the end they stated incorrectly that parents have the greatest influence over their teens' decisions. I believe it's the peer influence way more than parents, church and values ever can. Teens want the same music, clothes, games, shoes, parties as their friends - hands down.

  • Vietnam Vet Apr 5, 2011

    A lot of teenage brains are marginal at best anyway. They don't need help from alcohol to do stupid things...

  • Arapaloosa Apr 5, 2011

    It makes you wonder why they don't apply the same logic of limiting advertising like they did with cigarettes?