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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Teen Binge Drinking Linked to Attention Problems

Study Shows Teenagers Who Binge Drink May Also Have Difficulties in Decision Making
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"This study should be of concern to all of us," says Henry Wechsler, PhD, a lecturer at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, in an email. "It suggests that adolescent drinking may have serious long-term consequences."

Almost 30% of high school seniors and 40% of college students are binge drinkers, he says. Wechsler was the principal study investigator for the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study.

"We cannot shrug off youthful alcohol use as just a passing stage or a 'rite of passage,' nor can we accept the suggestion of some that we drop the minimum legal drinking age to 18, and make alcohol more available to high school and college students," he says.

"The developing adolescent brain is more vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse than the fully developed adult brain," says Tom Hedrick, a founding member of Partnership at "The area that is still developing during adolescence -- the frontal lobe-- is the part of the brain that makes judgment decisions, weighs risks vs. benefit, and can put a hold on impulsive behavior."

"This study is another example that shows helping kids with a forceful message about avoiding drugs and alcohol is the right thing to do," he says. The Partnership at is a nonprofit group based in New York City that helps parents prevent, intervene in, and find treatment for drug and alcohol problems in their children.

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