Alcohol and Young Adults Ages 18 to 25 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

For the purposes of addressing HIV and STD prevention, high-risk substance use is any use by adolescents of substances with a high risk of adverse outcomes (i.e., injury, criminal justice involvement, school dropout, loss of life). Digitized interventions can offer automated feedback, individually tailored messages, and can assess outcome expectations, motivation, and self-efficacy [76]. In the last three years, there have been several studies examining the effectiveness of digitized interventions such as web-applications [77, 78], text messaging [79], video games [80], and cognitive bias training [81].

  1. Working memory refers to a constellation of interrelated cognitive processes that ultimately result in one’s ability to hold temporarily and to manipulate information online.32 This ability is fundamental to intact performance in a variety of other cognitive domains, including language comprehension, abstract reasoning, and learning and memory.
  2. A number of characteristics distinguish adolescent from adult drinking, including a higher number of drinks per occasion by adolescents, different sensitivities to the effects of alcohol on adolescents and adults, and developmental differences in psychosocial tasks and brain development.
  3. It’s also important to know the signs of drug use and intervene early to help teens who are at risk for or have already developed substance use disorders.
  4. By contrast, for 10th and 12th graders, Whites and Hispanics reported a higher prevalence of the alcohol use indicators than African Americans.
  5. Of note, all of the human longitudinal studies in this review relied on youth self-report of substance use.

These developmental changes and contexts set the stage for late adolescents’ increasing involvement with alcohol. Increased autonomy, reduced parental monitoring, and greater involvement with peers all create the opportunity for psychological growth; they also create a context for the emergence of problem drinking. An alarming number of late adolescents, especially those who are out of high school, engage regularly alcohol withdrawal and detox in hazardous drinking. Although these problematic drinking practices are wide-spread among late adolescents, they are not universal. Adolescents with a history of behavioral problems and a family history of alcoholism seem especially prone to engaging in problem drinking. Results from national surveys of adolescents and young adults show that alcohol use is prevalent among both young men and women.


We found a negative association in both genders between school satisfaction and alcohol consumption during the past month prior the survey. Two cross-sectional studies showed that year olds who liked school were less likely to drink alcohol [43, 44]. However, the adolescents included in these two latter were older (15 to 20 years of age) than those included in ours.

. Third-Wave Cognitive Behavioral Therapies

The results of this basic research suggest that stress-induced increases in stress hormones may interact with mesocorticolimbic brain regions to facilitate alcohol use behavior. Investigations of stress effects in adolescents will be especially important given the dramatic changes taking place in the brain during that time. Overall, the recommendations in the literature remain relatively unchanged over the last three years regarding the primary treatment modalities for adolescent SUDs, as psychosocial interventions such as family-based therapies, CBT, and multicomponent interventions (including MI/MET and contingency management) remain the primary strategies. There remains uncertainty regarding the extent and effectiveness of pharmacotherapy in the treatment of adolescent SUDs.

Adolescent alcohol effects on the human brain

Among the 807 schools invited to participate, 266 took part in the survey, with a participation rate of 33%. Adolescents who drink may fail classes, experience other academic or social problems, and may even deal with legal issues. Aside from the traditional, age-based, categorical classifications, the law reflects a variety of transitional arrangements that attach privileges and responsibilities on a gradual basis. The most important of these are related to the licensing of drivers, which in many states progresses from learner’s permits to provisional driver’s licenses with restrictions and then to driver’s licenses with full rights and responsibilities. Similar graduated transitional rules can be seen in the imposition of curfews, the regulation of youth employment, and mandatory education.

Moreover, neither pre-pubertal or adult gonadectomy altered sensitivity to alcohol’s social inhibitory effects, although the microstructure of social behavior was affected in both males and females (Vetter-O’Hagen & Spear, 2012). Studies such as these support the suggestion that adolescent-typical alcoholic narcissist alcohol and narcissistic personality disorder alcohol sensitivities are not notably dependent on pubertally-related processes. Rodent studies provide novel insight into areas which have not yet been studied in great detail in humans, such as effects of adolescent alcohol use on neurotransmitters, neurogenesis, and neuroinflammation.

Neural Consequences of Underage Heavy Drinking

Nevertheless, some evidence is available that short recall periods like we used here lead to more accurate reporting [45]. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reports that, in general, alcohol and drug abuse are responsible for 80 percent of offenses that lead to incarceration in the United States. These offenses include drinking and driving, property damage, possession of drugs or alcohol, and public order offenses like public intoxication. Among incarcerated people who had a mental health struggle, 81 percent reported abusing alcohol in the month before they were incarcerated. In marked contrast to these few enhanced alcohol sensitivities, adolescents have been shown in animal studies to be notably less sensitive than adults to a variety of other alcohol effects – many of which seemingly serve as cues to help regulate intake.

Recent Findings:

More research is indicated in order to definitively determine whether recovery-specific educational settings are a viable treatment option given that their lack of accessibility and potential disruption to adolescent and family life structure. People ages 12 to 20 drink 3.4% of all alcohol consumed in the United States.4 Although youth drink less often than adults, when they do drink, they drink more. More than 90% of all beverages containing alcohol consumed by youth are consumed through binge drinking5 (see the “What Is Binge Drinking?” box).

Overall, these results provide mixed evidence as to whether cognitive functioning in adolescents who drink heavily can be modified or improved after abstinence, reductions in drinking, or treatment. While there is preliminary support that abstinence may be related to recovery in brain functioning, more evidence is required. Future research is needed to clarify when cognitive and neural recovery is most likely, and if certain cognitive and neural domains are more malleable than others following changes in substance use. This knowledge will benefit practitioners working with adolescents and can ultimately inform alcohol use treatment practices. The asynchrony described above is unique during adolescence and dovetails with research on reward-seeking behavior among adolescents and reward sensitivity in the dopamine- rich brain striatum (Galvan 2010). This research indicates that during adolescence, an increased activation in reward sensitive areas of the brain contributes to adolescents seeking, or being highly motivated to pursue, appetitive rewards (e.g., alcohol).

Once withdrawal and cravings set in, a teen dealing with addiction and dependence may not be able to stop using a substance, even if they want to. Four out of every five teenagers in the juvenile justice system at the state level were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they are arrested. Every year, about 600,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who is drunk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that adolescent alcohol abuse leads to severe harm and death for thousands of teenagers annually.

In both adolescents and adults, drinking also compromises the ability to sense danger by disrupting the function of a brain region called the amygdala. Alcohol often produces rewarding feelings such as euphoria or pleasure that trick the brain into thinking the decision to drink alcohol was a positive one and that motivate drinking again in the future. It has been argued that living in two-parent families could play a protective role on adolescent substance use. One study, in year-old Flemish adolescents, showed that boys from blended families and girls from one-parent families were more likely to consume alcohol at least once a week in comparison with adolescents from two-parent families [40].

This alcohol-induced social facilitation in adolescent rats is specific to social behavior and not evident in terms of overall activity, and can be seen both with adolescent-typical (play fighting) and adult-typical (social investigation – i.e., body sniffing) social behaviors. A particularly important consequence of adolescent alcohol exposure concerns the neurologic effects of alcohol on the developing adolescent brain. As noted earlier, adolescence is now recognized as a time of rapid neuromaturation in many key brain regions involved in self-regulation, emotional tone and reactivity, and a broad range of higher-level cognitive functions.

We review the normative neurologic, cognitive, and social changes that typically occur in late adolescence, and we discuss the evidence for the impact of these transitions on individual drinking trajectories. We also describe evidence linking alcohol abuse in late adolescence with neurologic damage and social impairments, and we discuss whether these are the bases for the association of adolescent drinking with increased risks of mental health, substance abuse, and social problems easy bruising: why does it happen in adulthood. Finally, we discuss both the challenges and successes in the treatment and prevention of adolescent drinking problems. Marshal and colleagues (2009) used three-wave data (at wave 1 average age about 15.8 years, then a 1-year followup, and an additional 5-year followup). Nonexclusively heterosexual orientation predicted more rapid increases in substance use, including alcohol use and drunkenness, across this adolescent to early young adulthood period.

The aim of this review is to therefore provide an update on the growing literature by summarizing the neural and cognitive consequences of varying patterns of alcohol use during adolescence, from prospective longitudinal studies in humans, rodents and non-human primates. In order to provide a broader context of the neural and cognitive consequences of alcohol use, this review begins with an overview of adolescent brain development, and the global prevalence rates of adolescent alcohol use before summarizing the effects of adolescent alcohol use on the brain and behavior from both human and animal studies. A focus has been placed on neuroimaging, neuropsychological, and neurophysiological studies as a means to provide a better understanding of the underlying neurobiological consequences of early alcohol use. The ability to regulate behavioral impulses is critical for successfully dealing with the increased exposure to risk that typically occurs during adolescence. Adolescents, especially those in late adolescence, are more likely than adults to engage in risky behavior, such as unprotected sex, hazardous driving, or heavy drinking.18 Age differences in risk-taking behavior may not, however, be attributable to adolescent deficits in the cognitive assessment of risk.

Examples of prescription drugs teens may misuse include stimulants like Adderall and benzodiazepines like Xanax. Several studies have found a negative association between life satisfaction and early alcohol use [10, 43]. For example, an American study showed that year olds with “low” life satisfaction were also more likely to consume alcohol in conjunction with tobacco and/or marijuana [10].

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.