CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Long Term Consequences of Teen Drinking

In an article on the neurophysiology of drinking, the New York Times recently exposed the myth that teenage drinking doesn't cause immediate harm.

Preliminary studies found significant cellular damage to the forebrain and the hippocampus.

And "research even suggests that early heavy drinking may undermine the precise neurological capacities needed to protect oneself from alcoholism." A heavy and sad irony in that.

I have a problem with conducting research by getting rats drunk and forcing them to run watery mazes under the influence. We certainly have enough data with all the humans taking themselves to black-outs. Witness this incredible statistic:

"In a 2002 e-mail survey of 772 Duke undergraduates, Dr. White and Dr. Swartzwelder found that 51 percent of those who drank at all had had at least one blackout in their drinking lifetimes; they reported an average of three blackouts apiece."

In any event, beware "The Grim Neurology of Teenage Drinking" (NYT July 4, 2006). As one expert was quoted: " "Alcohol creates disruption in parts of the brain essential for self-control, motivation and goal setting .... Early drinking is affecting a sensitive brain in a way that promotes the progression to addiction."

The sages in Ethics of the Fathers were insightful - sans research - when they created the maxim that good produces good, while sin (missing the mark) produces the same. They knew that every action entrains the brain for more of the same.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173