Though adolescent alcohol use and drug use has gone down overall, it’s still a large public health and social issue today. Science Daily recently wrote an article outlining new research which has discovered cognitive functioning, brain features, and demographic factors in the beginning of adolescence has the ability to predict adolescent alcohol use later on.
What they found
In the study, they used 137 healthy young people who had no previous drug or alcohol use. The people went through neuropsychological tests, thorough clinical interviews, and structural/functional magnetic resonance imaging. They also had annual check-ups to see if alcohol use would occur throughout their development.
With 74 percent accuracy, the researchers were able to predict whether a young person would partake in adolescent alcohol use in late adolescence. A little over half of the participants had engaged in adolescent alcohol use by age 18, while a little less than half stayed non-users.
Factors that related to adolescent alcohol use
Many factors were found to correlate with future adolescent alcohol use. It included being male, dating by the age fourteen, coming from a family with more money and education, and a positive perception of alcohol’s effects in social situations.
Issues with academic performance and executive functioning on tasks of planning, problem-solving, or reasoning also were used as determinants of later adolescent alcohol use. Differences in how the brain functioned during executive functioning tasks was also highly predictive of whether a young person would start drinking alcohol.
Creating new ways to combat adolescent alcohol use
Adolescence is a time where you learn to define yourself and if that ends up including alcohol, it’s harder to kick the habit. While we’re not to the point where we can monitor and scan every adolescent brain to check for likeliness to partake in adolescent alcohol use, this research helps us further understand and create new tools to help those more prone to substance abuse.
Especially the demographic factors are helpful for parents, teachers, and professionals looking to lower the chance of a young person turning to alcohol. By seeing the factors and understanding why they lead to adolescent alcohol use, we can further help struggling teens overcome those factors and work towards success.