Spring Break Drinking May Turn Your Brain to Mush
Even with most Spring Breaks behind us for the year, it’s still not too late to take a look at the harm these “party-hard, no-holds-barred" drinking marathons can have on the young people who participate. Especially since April is also Alcohol Awareness Month. Hmmmm . . . how fitting.
In fact, a recent news release from the Harris County Hospital District in Houston, Texas is warning teens and young adults that their spring break drinking may lead to significant brain damage. And that warning doesn’t just go out to college kids who spend the week in Cancun. Binge drinking anytime, whether you’re on spring break or not, puts you at an increased risk of brain damage . . . amongst a host of other health dangers.
According to Dr. Alicia Ann Kowalchuk, who is the medical director of the alcohol and drug intervention program at the Harris County Hospital District, your brain continues to develop until you reach the age of 25. This means that these young brains are especially susceptible to being harmed due to excessive drinking.
Binge drinking affects the part of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex, which handles your ability to control impulse and manages your decision-making ability. When this area is compromised, it makes it difficult for young people to use good judgment and make rational decisions. This impairment of judgment can lead to dangerous behavior like promiscuity and unprotected sex, drinking and driving (or riding in a car with someone who has been drinking), or even criminal behavior. Not only that, but this damage to a developing brain could lead to permanent, irreversible harm.
“Problem Drinking” Can Happen on Less Alcohol Than You Think
It’s not exactly uncommon for a teen or young adult to knock back three or four alcoholic drinks when out partying with friends on any given weekend. And we all know that there’s a lot more than that being consumed during spring break and other celebrations. What many people don’t know is that technically, binge drinking is defined as four drinks or more for males and three drinks or more for females in one sitting. Medical professionals consider this amount to be indicative of a drinking problem that needs to be addressed and dealt with.
How Can You Help?
Parents are urged to talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol - even before they start drinking. And to be truly effective, they are advised to be consistent and brutally honest about the consequences. Children need to be told with certainty that drinking alcohol can not only lead to bad choices but may, in fact, do permanent damage that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives. This forthright approach may not be to every parent’s liking or comfort level, but professionals believe that it’s the most effective way to keep teens and young people from putting their lives at risk.