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Brain injury in kids may lead to alcohol abuse

11-03 | By CSAA Team

Brain injury in kids may lead to alcohol abuse

Being one of the legitimately accessible substances around, the abuse of alcohol has become widespread across all age groups. It is responsible for the increasing level of morbidity and mortality by inflicting a number of problems on the users, society and economy. Moreover, the problem of drinking, especially among teenagers, has turned into a public health issue in the United States.

As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people aged 12 to 20 years drink nearly 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. and more than 90 percent of them engage in binge drinking. In contrast to the previous years, alcohol initiation rates have expanded radically, posing serious health threats, influencing interpersonal relationships, affecting academic performances, impairing cognitive skills, etc.

As such, the problem of early alcohol abuse is driven by numerous social, emotional, environmental and behavioral factors, such as mental issues (e.g. anxiety, depression, etc.), peer pressure, family history of drinking, dysfunctional family, etc. A recent study has highlighted the increased risk of alcohol-related problems among people with traumatic brain injuries, especially youngsters.

Connection between traumatic brain injuries and alcohol abuse

The researchers at Ohio State University surveyed the previous studies to establish a relationship between traumatic brain injuries and alcohol abuse. Being a life-changing event, a traumatic brain injury is usually a lifelong process of recovery, adaptation to the changes and vulnerability to other diseases. Therefore, the researchers highlighted that youngsters suffering from such a problem are at an increased risk to resort to alcohol for the alleviation of pain.

The absence of other motivating factors, such as existence of stable relationships, participation in extracurricular activities, etc., further heighten the danger of developing drinking problems in the brain injury survivors. Furthermore, traumatic brain injuries make individuals more impulsive and less aware of the consequences of their actions, which make them seek comfort in alcohol as a damage control measure.

Since the repercussions of alcohol on the brain injury survivors are comparatively more severe in nature, the researchers advised them to pay special attention to their drinking patterns to avoid developing debilitating cognitive, neuropsychiatric and occupational problems.

During the animal study on mice, the researchers found that traumatic brain injuries cause significant inflammation in the brain, such as the dopaminergic system, that increases vulnerability to drinking.  The findings revealed that mice that experience a traumatic brain injury as a juvenile, tend to drink significantly more alcohol as adults. Moreover, past literature suggests a close connection between alcohol and traumatic brain injuries.

It is quite difficult to comprehend whether the hypothesis of the above study stands true in the case of adults. Since most adults who have brain injuries are already heavy drinkers, it is difficult to determine whether a brain injury has affected their drinking or not.

In case of individuals who endure such brain damages during childhood or pre-adulthood, the risk of developing alcohol-related issues in later life was quite apparent. For instance, kids under the age of five with a traumatic brain injury are more than 3.6 times prone to substance abuse as youngsters, compared to the uninjured children.

Seek treatment to get rid of addiction

Considering the fact that drinking after a brain injury can cause numerous health problems and poorer outcomes, it is essential to exercise caution at every step. Though the association between brain injuries and alcohol abuse is not distinctly established in humans, the above findings are quite eye opening.  As any amount of alcohol is dangerous to both mental and physical health, one should avoid it.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, contact the Colorado Substance Abuse Advisors for information about the state-of-the-art substance abuse treatment centers in Colorado. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-300-5857 or chat online with our representatives for further information about the evidence-based substance abuse treatment programs in Colorado.

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