Alcohol is more harmful to teenagers than marijuana, a study suggests. Prof. Susan Tapert at the University of California, San Diego, said Thursday teenagers who report heavy alcohol use have reduced hippocampal volume compared with their nondrinking peers.
The teenagers classified as heavy drinkers consumed more than 20 glasses of alcohol a month. The study showed teenagers who were heavy drinkers for just one to two years developed abnormalities in their brains. The researchers said heavily drinking teenagers had just 85 percent the memory capacity of people who are not heavy drinkers.
Claims that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana have been around for some time. In 2007, a team of researchers led by David Nutt of Bristol University in the U.K. said alcohol was the fifth most dangerous out of 20 harmful substances including heroin and cocaine, more harmful than illegal drugs such as amphetamines, marijuana and ecstasy, which are banned in most countries.
Experts say Tapert's findings should add more weight to claims that authorities should treat alcohol as a harmful drug and control its sales.