Marijuana And Alcohol Together Can Make Teens Dumb, SoCal Study Says

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Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 7:04 AM
  • berkeleypatientscare.com

The holidays are a time of alcoholic imbibing, yes. And some of you might even smoke some stuff that looks like mistletoe.

But if you're a teenager doing all of the above, look out.

A new study by Southern California researchers says youths who mix toking and drinking could face "worsened neurocognitive abilities:"

In other words, this stuff could slow you down. Permanently. Maybe.

Researchers at UC San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are publishing their findings in an upcoming issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

According to a summary:

click to enlarge KATHEIRNE HITT / FLICKR
  • Katheirne Hitt / Flickr

Chronic use of alcohol and marijuana during youth is associated with poorer neural structure, function and metabolism, as well as worsened neurocognitive abilities into later adolescence and adulthood.

The academics tracked 92 youths ages 16 to 20 for a year and a half. Slightly less than half (41) had used pot and alcohol extensively by their mid to late teens.

Joanna Jacobus, postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego, said, ...

... Increasing alcohol use over 1.5 years in late adolescence was related to a decline in white-matter health 18 months later, supporting a negative effect of alcohol use on the brain ...

Why? Researchers think it has something to do with the fact that the brain is still developing in adolescents.

The teen brain is continuing to develop, so many neural systems are not yet fully matured, as compared to adults' brains. Brain connections important for inhibiting risky behaviors are still forming, and some youth are more likely to choose immediate effects, such as alcohol or marijuana use, over long-term benefits.

Yay, said teen boys everywhere. But remember, girls are smarter than you to begin with.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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