Childhood Head Injuries Could Lead to Alcohol Abuse

alcohol-abuseConcussions, head traumas, or traumatic brain injuries (TBI), are something that can severely impact one’s life and can be fatal. We see it all the time with football players who take major hits, they walk off the field and go home. Sometimes people with TBIs go to bed and never wake up.

It turns out, that even minor concussions can lead to changes in the brain that can impact people later on in life, possibly resulting in addiction. New research suggests that females who experience a head injury during childhood may be at an increased risk of alcohol abuse later in life, ScienceDaily reports. The study was published in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

A Bump On The Head

Working with mice, researchers found that females who experienced “mild closed-head brain injury” were at a greater risk of misusing alcohol later in life, according to the article. The females were also more likely to associate drinking with reward and pleasure.

Fortunately, the adverse effects may be reversible with enriched environments. The mice that were raised in environments that provided activities were less likely to exhibit increased drinking behavior, when compared to the mice raised in standard housing. The researchers found that enriched environments reduced degeneration of nerve axons.

It’s Not Set In Stone

“We wanted to demonstrate that this effect is not set in stone at the time of injury,” said Zachary Weil, assistant professor of neuroscience at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “There are ways to intervene, but they’re expensive in terms of effort and money. It requires sustained treatment and rehabilitation and educational support.”

“The best therapy for a childhood brain injury is everybody getting great medical care and rehabilitation, regardless of socioeconomic status,” he said. “People with juvenile head injuries are already at risk for memory problems, difficulty concentrating, poor learning and reduced impulse control. If we can prevent alcohol misuse, chances for a good life are much better.”

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