Heavy alcohol consumption might disrupt brain growth

India struggles to deal with substance abuse among teenagers

Lifestyle

News - India & You

December 13, 2016

/ By / Kolkata



alcohol-abuse

Alcohol is more of a health hazard than a moral issue

Excessive intake of alcohol during the adolescence can prove disruptive for the development of brain, according to a recent study. Despite mixed efforts in India, the country still witnesses more than 15 deaths everyday due to alcohol abuse.

A latest study published in a journal called Addiction from the University of Eastern Finland reveals that teens that drink heavily are more susceptible to forming lesser grey matter than their peers. The grey matter is an important part of the brain structure that helps in memory, decision-making and self-control.

The researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital in Finland performed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain structure on young and healthy, but heavy-drinking adults who were habituated to alcohol throughout their adolescence. The test was also done on age-matched light-drinking control participants. “The maturation of the brain is still ongoing in adolescence, and especially the frontal areas and the cingulated cortex develop until the twenties. Our findings strongly indicate that heavy alcohol use may disrupt this maturation process,” said the first author of the study, Noora Heikkinen from University of Eastern Finland.

Albeit, results reflected an assumption in place as the study was observational, so it was not possible to make a concrete inference. However, the report pointed out evident volumetric changes in this area playing an important role in the development of a substance use disorder later in life. Cingulated cortex also plays a vital part in impulse control in the brain which can go for a toss due to heavy intake of alcohol during the adolescence.

Alcohol – A health hazard that is not immoral?

While recent data is still abstract, the 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports revealed that 15 people die every day or one every 96 minutes from the effects of drinking alcohol in India. Quite interestingly, the data for deaths due to alcohol influence nationally as well as state-wise has been stopped since 2014 and is included in sudden deaths overall.

The per capita consumption of alcohol in India increased 38 pc, from 1.6 litres in 2003-05 to 2.2 litres in 2010-12, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which also revealed that more than 11 pc of Indians were indulged drinkers, against the global average of 16 pc. The data also elucidate the wide political support for crackdowns on alcohol, although experts point out that alcohol is a health problem and not a moral one.

The latest report on substance abuse turns the spotlight on India as it happens to be a ‘young’ country with a large group of teenagers who are highly susceptible to alcohol abuse.

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