Brain Injuries and Alcohol Abuse

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Brain Injuries and Alcohol Abuse

According to a study published in the Journal of Neurotrauma, girls who suffered from a closed-head brain injury during childhood are at risk to abuse alcohol as adults. They are also more likely to link alcohol with pleasure. This further supports the concept that many brain injuries are related to alcohol.

Researchers on the study used mice as their test subjects to find if suffering from a traumatic brain injury as a child would affect alcohol use as an adult, and if the results would differ in men and women. The mice were given a concussive head injury at 3 weeks old, which is equivalent to 6 to 12 years old in humans. After suffering from the injury, the mice were given a choice of two bottles of liquid, one with water and one with water diluted with ethanol. The female mice drank much more water with ethanol after the injury than the male mice. Later in the study the mice were placed in a box with specific sections of alcohol and saline. The female injured mice spent 65 percent of the time in the areas with alcohol.

When a human suffers from a traumatic brain injury, they are encouraged to heal through use of physical and mental therapy. When this is done, they are less likely to suffer long term due to their injury, including being less likely to abuse alcohol than they would have been without the therapy. The mice were also given the option to heal through toys and activities. The injured female mice that did complete these activities reduced their brain damage by 40 percent.

There are plans for a follow up study to test whether hormones play a part in females abusing alcohol after head injuries.