Popular Posts

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

More Adolescents Who Drink Young Can't Control It Later

We know it's a lifetime for many but still - the 60s were a time of experimentation with many substances - liquid and chemical.

Studies show that adolescents who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to have alcohol-related problems later in life. So, convincing your kids to delay that first drink can make a big difference to the rest of their lives.

Parents of girls should be particularly wary. In the 1960s, only 7% of girls reported having their first drink between the ages of 10 to 14; now nearly 25% say they do. And the younger a girl is when she reaches puberty, the more likely substance abuse will occur earlier in her life.

Kids with major family problems are also at high risk to drink young. A survey of nearly 3,600 Americans ages 18 to 39 found that kids who experienced physical or sexual abuse, lived with a mentally ill family member, had substance abuse in their home, or had parents who went through a divorce or separation, were more likely to begin drinking before age 15.

The most vulnerable teens have family problems and a genetic predisposition for alcoholism, says Tammy L. Hughes, Ph.D., an associate professor of school psychology at Duquesne University. She points out that poverty, availability of drugs in the community, and low attachment to school and communities are also major risk factors.

How Alcohol Affects the Central Nervous System

The Central Nervous System (CNS) includes the brain and the spinal cord. The most important parts of the CNS are protected by bones. The skull protects the brain and the spine protects the spinal cord.

The nervous system is made up of the CNS and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The PNS includes the neurons, or nerves, that form a network that carries information to and from the neck and arms, trunk, legs, skeletal muscles, and internal organs. Neurons can send nerve signals to and from the brain at up to 200 miles per hour. When the nervous system is working smoothly, it is amazingly efficient.

The CNS is responsible for taking in information through the senses, controlling motor function, as well as thinking, understanding, and reasoning. It also controls emotion.

But alcohol is a depressant of the CNS; meaning it slows activity down. Does this surprise you? Most people think that alcohol is a “pick-me-up” experience because, initially, when people begin to drink, it causes them to become more animated and less reserved. But the opposite occurs as they continue to drink and more alcohol enters the brain.

The degree to which brain activity slows down depends on how much, and how fast, a person drinks. Some effects people experience include:

• Altered speech
• Hazy thinking
• Slowed reaction time
• Dulled hearing
• Impaired vision
• Weakened muscles
• Foggy memory