Adolescent Alcohol Use: Understanding the Risks 

The Risks Involved with Adolescent Alcohol Use


Experimentation of drugs and alcohol have become a common thing among youth today. Adolescent alcohol use has developed into a major public health and social problem in the U.S. An article by Science Daily recently discussed new research that has found demographic factors, cognitive functioning, and brain features during early-adolescence that can predict adolescent alcohol use in later years.

Data Collected

The researchers collected data on 137 healthy youth who had no previous alcohol or drug experience. They used extensive clinical interviews, neuropsychological tests, and structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, followed by annual check-ups to determine if adolescent alcohol use would occur.

The researchers were able to predict, with 74 percent accuracy, which youth would eventually engage in alcohol use by late adolescence. By age 18, 51 percent of youth had initiated in heavy amounts of adolescent alcohol use, while 67 percent remained non-users.

Other Contributing Factors

The demographic factors that predicted alcohol use included being male, coming from a family with more money and education, dating by age 14, and positive expectations of how alcohol would make youth feel or behave, particularly in social situations.

Poorer performance on tests or executive functioning including tasks of planning, problem solving, and reasoning were also significant indicators of future adolescent alcohol use. The differences in the structure and function of the brain during the executive functioning tasks were predictive of which youth would partake in adolescent alcohol use.

Developing a New Tool

While researchers are not at a point where they can scan every youth’s brain and determine if they will struggle with adolescent alcohol use, they do hope that this new research will help them develop new ways to predict risks of addiction and substance use. Understanding the features of the brain that contribute to adolescent alcohol use can help prevent future issues.

Parents, teachers, and clinicians can continually to look for demographic risk factors to predict adolescent alcohol use. Watching social behaviors and expectations, youth’s backgrounds and family background can help determine if youth are at risk. Parents and teachers should be aware of help that is available to youth if they do develop substance use problems. It is important to support them and guide them through this difficult time.

Elevations RTC can help

Elevations RTC is a leading residential treatment center for teens, ages 13 to 18, grappling with anxiety, depression, substance use, and other emotional or behavioral issues. As a residential treatment center for teens, we try to go above and beyond other RTC’s by having not only one on-site psychiatrist, but two practitioners who see each student weekly. We also have an academic component that uses an accredited curriculum and licensed/credentialed teachers. With all of this, we strive to give each student the most efficient and beneficial experience possible.

For more information about Elevations RTC, please call today!

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