Developing Brains at High Risk from Early Alcohol Use

Guest blog by Brenda Patoine

Underage drinking is a significant public health problem in the United States. While rates of underage drinking have declined steadily in the past decade or so, the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that among US youth 12 to 20 years old surveyed about their alcohol use in the past 30 days, 20% reported drinking alcohol and 13% reported binge drinking. Adolescents account for approximately 11 percent of total alcohol consumption in the U.S., according to a CDC fact sheet on underage drinking.

Because the teenage brain is at a highly vulnerable stage of development, early drinking may set the stage for later alcohol abuse.  The frontal cortex doesn’t fully develop until around age 25, and emerging data suggest that this executive area of the brain is particularly susceptible to damage from alcohol use during adolescence.

Underage Drinking fact_rightquote-01

Continue reading

National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week (January 25-31)


On Monday, National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week began, sparking local events across the country in an effort to “shatter the myths” about drugs and alcohol, particularly among teens.

Continue reading

National Recovery Month: Drug and Alcohol Addiction

OBrien_Charles_featThe month of September is dedicated to raising awareness about recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. This month, we interviewed Dana Alliance member Charles O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D., who founded the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Addiction Treatment. For more than thirty years, O’Brien has worked to improve addiction treatment and has made many breakthroughs regarding the clinical aspects of addiction and the neurobiology of relapse.

In your opinion, what is the most common misconception about drug and alcohol addiction?

Most physicians learn very little about addictive disorders in medical school or residency. Rather than being considered a disease of the brain, most see it as bad behavior. They don’t know that there are FDA approved medications and that patients do respond to treatment, even though “cures” are rare.

Continue reading

The Drunken Brain

Learn more about Dana-supported brain research by reading our grantee Q&As. A new interview with GraemGraeme masone Mason, Ph.D., a brain and immuno-imaging grantee, addresses his work with Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy imaging to look at alcohol’s neural effects. Through his research, he hopes to answer questions such as: Do people with a genetic vulnerability to alcohol dependence need to drink more to feel like they’ve consumed the same amount of alcohol as those without the gene?

To read all Dana grantee interviews, visit the Q&A page on

– Ann L. Whitman

Interview with Addiction Expert Charles P. O’Brien

It’s National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month, and who better to talk about current research and reasons for hope than addiction expert (and Dana grantee) Charles P. O’Brien, M.D., Ph.D.?

Dr. O’Brien is the Vice Chair and Kenneth Appel Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and is an advocate of using medication to treat addiction. He is currently working with parolees who have a history of opiate addiction and relapse to examine the effectiveness of the medication naltrexone, a drug originally developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in the 1970s as a treatment for heroin addiction.

He discusses his research and opinions on the state of addiction treatment in the interview, “Ignorance and the Undertreatment of Addiction: Lessons from Prison.”

–Ann L. Whitman

%d bloggers like this: