An article at the website of the Toronto (Canada) Star newspaper discusses what researchers have discovered about differences in the effects of alcohol on females — especially adolescent females — from their male counterparts.  In both genders, one researcher says, “Quantity and frequency can be a killer for novice drinkers. Adding alcohol to the mix of the developing brain will likely complicate the normal developmental trajectory. Long after a young person recovers from a hangover, risk to cognitive and brain functions endures.”

The article also discusses ongoing studies about differences between the brains of addicts of all kinds and non-addicts. The brain’s reward system, in which certain parts of the brain react to the presence of dopamine by imparting feelings of pleasure, is weaker in addicts. Some of that is an effect of drinking or using: too much stimulation of the system by addictive drinking/using causes a scaling back in the number of receptors, which in turn leads to the “need” for addicts to use more and more of the drug of choice as time passes. It’s possible, though not yet proven, that some individuals are born with a relatively weak brain reward system, predisposing them to being vulnerable to addiction.

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