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Study shows minor consumption of alcohol affects decision-making

According to a recent study, teenage drinking habits could result in long-term alterations of brain chemistry, which ultimately affects one's decision-making abilities. Minor consumption of alcohol could later contribute to Georgia teens participating in risky behavior when they are adults, the study says. Although this scientific study involved rats and not actual teenagers, the results of the investigation may inspire Georgia parents to have a talk with their teens about underage drinking.

According to the postdoctoral fellow who headed the research, the adolescent brain -- which is still developing -- could be affected negatively by alcohol usage. The scientist said that teenagers are usually in the middle of an exploratory period in their lives when they are first exposed to alcohol. This can have profound effects on their behavior in adulthood, she says.

In the study, researchers coaxed adolescent-aged rats into drinking Jell-O shots. The rats were allowed to have as many Jell-O shots as they wanted, 24 hours a day. After the rats became adults, they were provided with various risk-taking opportunities. Either they could expose themselves to a low risk and get a small treat, or they could expose themselves to a high risk and get a bigger treat. The rats who were given Jell-O shots while teenagers consistently chose the big-risk-big-reward scenario rather than the safer bet.

The results of this study could be viewed as a reminder for Georgia parents to discuss alcohol with their teens. However, regardless of whether a rat-based alcohol consumption study can accurately predict risky decisions later in life for human adults, a guilty conviction on minor consumption charges can result in serious consequences for teenagers right now. Nevertheless, teenagers accused of a crime will have the right to assert legal defenses in a court of law just like adults do. By successfully navigating their criminal proceedings, Georgia teens may be able to significantly improve the final outcome of their legal proceedings.

Source: universityherald.com, "Teen Drinking Linked To Risky Behavior In Adulthood", Jaleesa Baulkman, April 27, 2014