A new study shows that researchers may be able to successfully predict the risk of binge drinking for teens. This may help with identifying teen alcohol abuse early on and preventing complications. The study looked at factors that include brain structure, life experience, and individual personality. All of these factors are proven to have a strong link to teen alcohol abuse and binge drinking. The study used data from the IMAGEN project to develop a model that can include up to 40 various risk factors for substance abuse among teens. The lead author for the study, University College Dublin professor Dr. Robert Whelan, said “Our goal was to better understand the relative roles of brain structure and function, personality, environmental influences, and genetics in the development of adolescent abuse of alcohol. This multidimensional risk profile of genes, brain function, and environmental influences can help in the prediction of binge drinking at age 16 years.”
The study on teen alcohol abuse and binge drinking involved more than 2,000 14 year olds from several European countries including France, Germany, England, and Ireland. Professor Gunter Schumann, who is associated with the King’s College London and the Institute of Psychiatry and who is also the IMAGEN project Coordinator, stated “We aimed to develop a ‘gold standard’ model for predicting teenage behavior which can be used as a benchmark for the development of simpler, widely applicable prediction models.” Being able to predict the risk of teen alcohol abuse and binge drinking may be the first step to treatment that is effective.