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Showing posts from November, 2012

The adolescent brain and alcohol

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Since the 1990s we have learnt a great deal about the developing brain. It was once believed that this complex organ finished developing around the age of 15 years, we now know it takes much longer and that during the dynamic changes that occur during adolescence drinking alcohol can seriously damage long and short-term growth processes.

Before we look at alcohol's effects on the developing brain - let's first discuss what is different about a teenage mind.

We all know that adolescence can be a troubled time but now we are beginning to understand why this is the case - and it's not just all about raging hormones and puberty! Certain parts of the brain are underdeveloped, particularly the prefrontal cortex (the part that deals with judgement, decision-making, planning and impulse control) and when teens make decisions they tend to use an alternative section - the amygdala (the emotional part of their brain). This results in a decrease in reasoned thinking and an increase …

What are 'bath salts'?

There are so many urban myths that exist to do with drugs and drug culture. It is difficult to work out how and where many of them originated, whereas others can be pinpointed exactly, as is the case with so-called 'bath salts'.

What is repeatedly mentioned in media stories to do with the new range of 'legal highs' or 'synthetics' is the story of a US man who reportedly stripped a homeless man naked and then attempted to chew his face off whilst under the influence of 'bath salts'. Witnesses described the man as a "zombie" and when the police finally arrived on the scene and intervened they shot and killed him. The attack was caught on video and, not surprisingly, the media had a field day. When the story broke there had been no toxicology conducted so no-one really knew what had caused this bizarre attack but that didn't stop the police or media from making wild claims. Nicknamed the 'Miami Zombie', Rudy Eugene became the poster …

What hope do we really have?

It has been really interesting to see media coverage of the Melbourne Cup this year. Images of drunk racegoers falling to the ground with alcohol in their hands even managed to make front page news in the UK. It seems that no matter how you dress it up - getting drunk is not attractive - at last we're acknowledging that!

Then you find 'articles' like the one I was sent from Melinda Tankard-Reist yesterday that makes you realize just how far we have to go. Melinda does an amazing job highlighting a range of issues, particularly around the sexualisation of our young women. The piece she sent me came from Zoo Weekly magazine and was contained in an article called 'Truths that are Lies' challenging a number of so-called 'myths' including 'Alcohol kills brain cells'. Their response to this statement was as follows:

"Here's a good reason to go out, get slaughtered and urinate on a
policeman: even industrial quantities of booze won't destroy …

The 'Schoolies' Week' phenomenon

It's that time of year that many parents dread - the lead-up to 'Schoolies' Week' (or 'Leavers' Week' as it is known in WA). Last week Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr issued a warning to Schoolies travelling overseas that if they break the law consular staff can't "rescue them if they are arrested". It was a great move by the Australian Government in my opinion but I doubt very much if it will have any great effect on those young people who choose to go overseas for Schoolies' celebrations.

You only need to take a look at a story that ran on Channel Ten's 'The Project' in response to the DFA's warning to realize what we are up against. If you go to the following link the story on Schoolies travelling overseas begins at 2min.20sec. The interview with the two young women who are planning to travel to Bali is quite disturbing. When asked why they chose to go overseas they make it clear that it is to avoid the laws around al…