Drinking during puberty increases risk of alcohol abuse
During puberty, adolescents try out a lot of new things, but unfortunately often drugs or alcohol. The later alcohol consumption seems to be shaped significantly in this phase, according to the findings of Mannheim researchers.
Teenagers more susceptible to narcotic rewards Teenagers who drink alcohol for the first time during puberty increase their risk of consuming more and more alcohol later in life. This finding is based on studies by scientists from the Mannheim Central Institute for Mental Health. The pharmacologist Rainer Spanagel explains: "The brain's reward system changes significantly during puberty" and that is why the brain is also more susceptible to rewards in this phase, which are provided by narcotic drugs. This can also influence alcohol consumption in later life. The results of the studies are to be published in the October issue of the journal "Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research". Under the direction of Miriam Schneider, the Mannheim researchers came to their findings through long-term observation. The alcohol consumption of 283 young adults was evaluated to determine whether they had already drunk alcohol during puberty. Studies on rats were also carried out. Schneider said, "Most teenagers drink alcohol for the first time during puberty."
With the onset of sexual maturity, which usually begins earlier in girls than in boys, puberty is defined. It usually begins between the ages of 12 and 14. Spanagel, however, says: "But that is shifting more and more forward today."
Alcohol before puberty The studies also showed that it appears that the risk of higher alcohol consumption in later life decreases if you only drink alcohol for the first time after puberty. The researchers also emphasize that it even appears that the risk is slightly lower if you use alcohol before puberty - compared to when it happens during puberty. From these findings, the scientists conclude that prevention programs should be tailored much more specifically to adolescents. Schneider added: "In any case, research on this topic still has to take place."
Until now it had been assumed that the sooner alcohol consumption began, the worse the consequences, the first indications were that the human development phases were of great importance. Of course, the high risk of addiction caused by alcohol is generally problematic. California scientists found that after drinking alcohol, the human brain releases the happiness hormone endorphin. “Consumers feel happy after drinking alcohol,” says the researchers. And so of course there is a great danger for some people to use the bottle too often.
26,349 adolescents treated in hospital for “binge drinking” The Federal Statistical Office warns that alcohol excesses in children and adolescents again end up in the hospital more frequently. In 2011, exactly 26,349 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 19 were treated in hospital for “coma binge drinking”. Since the introduction of statistics in 2000, the number has increased steadily compared to the number of inhabitants. Boys and young men make up almost two thirds of the patients. However, according to the latest drug and addiction report by the federal government, alcohol consumption is declining, especially among adolescents. According to the report published in 2012, 14.2 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 regularly use the bottle. In 2001 the share was 17.9 percent. However, regular alcohol consumption is almost as common among young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 at almost 40 percent as in 2001. (sb)
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