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It seems that the adolescent brain may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and alcohol. At a recent conference where researchers discussed published and unpublished work, studies showed that alcohol's impact on a variety of brain activities appears more severe in adolescent rats. Similarly, though results don't always agree, the adolescent brain also appears to be extremely sensitive to the effects of nicotine.

Adolescent drinking in the United States exacts an enormous societal cost -- $53 billion (US) annually for such things as drunk driving accidents and violent crimes--according to a new study by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.1 Thirty percent of US high school seniors "are drinking heavily, at least once a month," the report states, and nearly 70% of UK adolescents said they did likewise three times in the previous month, according to the report.

Discussing as yet unpublished...

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