[noun]: an intense persistent desire to drink alcoholic beverages to excess

Saturday, July 15, 2006

1825 Martin Pond Road

A Wake County house in Wendell is in need of repair after a car plowed into it early Sunday morning.

At about 1:35 a.m., according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, Brice Dwayne Pearce, 20, of Raleigh, ran off the road and flipped several times before crashing into the bedroom of a house.

Investigators said Pearce told them he was traveling at about 90 mph around a curve, where the posted speed limit was 35 mph. After the crash, he got out of his car and walked down the street to a friend's house, where a Wake County Sheriff's deputy later found him, authorities said.

No one inside the house was injured, but the house's occupant said she had a rude awakening. Investigators said they believe alcohol was a factor in the accident. Pearce was charged with driving while impaired, careless and reckless driving, hit-and-run and provisional licensee (for driving under the influence under the age of 21).

Pearce was taken to WakeMed to be treated for minor injuries and was later released.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Teen Drinking Takes Toll On Brain

(CBS)Teens and alcohol can be a deadly combination. But CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports that a new study shows that teens who indulge in binge drinking may be paying a heavy price.

"I think teenagers view alcohol — and I certainly did — as something that's very glamorous," says Toren Volkmann. The 26-year-old is now a recovering alcoholic — and he realizes there was nothing glamorous about it.

In fact, a mounting body of scientific evidence is showing that young drinkers like Volkmann may be damaging their brains.

"Heavy drinking during the teen years can exact a toll long that lasts long after the buzz wears off," says Dr. Aaron White of the Duke University Medical Center.

Researchers like White say studies now confirm that the delicate, developing teenage brain is much more susceptible than the adult brain to the toxic effects of alcohol.

"The brain is developing during adolescence," White says. "Whenever a brain is developing, it's vulnerable to the disruptive effects of alcohol. Pregnant women don't drink for that reason."

Studies show that disruption causes problems with important cognitive skills like attention, learning and memory.

"Adolescence is the most important period of life for learning," White says. "It's not the time you want to be blocking the ability of the brain to change with experience — and that's exactly what alcohol does."

Volkmann admits his memory is not very sharp. But he was thinking clearly enough to sit down with his mother and write a book together about his experience as a teenage drinker. He hopes his story will be the ultimate cautionary tale to any teenager who thinks drinking is just harmless good fun.

"I think the average family does not understand the true realities of addiction and the propensity for anyone to become addicted," he says. "It starts at a young age. That's definitely what definitely caught us off guard."

There is one bright side to this story. Teenage brains may be more easily damaged by alcohol, but they are also easier to repair — so if the problem is caught early enough, researchers say, there can be recovery, and the damage may not be permanent.

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