Alcoholism tends to create cognitive problems in addicts. A recent study has shown that drinking alcohol excessively also makes individuals less likely to be able to make good decisions in life.

This research focused on college students, and it provided evidence that binge drinking impairs decision-making capabilities and increases acting impulsively. Binge drinking is a form of alcohol abuse that is defined as four or more drinks on one occasion for women and five or more drinks for men. For example, individuals who binge drink are more likely to choose options that provide short-term benefits along with long-term problems, rather than opting for benefits over the long run. The list of skills associated with this problem that is created by alcohol abuse include doing multiple things at one time, delaying actions, abstract thinking, planning for future events, and switching between two different activities. Individuals who have an alcohol abuse problem, specifically college students in the study, are less able to do these things.

Many people focus on alcoholism, but meeting the requirements for an addiction is not necessary to have cognitive problems related to drinking. Alcohol abuse and binge drinking below the threshold for addiction have been shown to damage brain function in multiple studies. It is not yet known for sure whether these effects will be reversible over time or if they are permanent. Most people who have an alcohol abuse problem begin drinking in their teen and young adult years. This is a time when the brain is still forming in significant ways, including decision-making abilities. Young people and parents need to understand that heavy alcohol consumption, even if it is not alcoholism, will damage their ability to think optimally.

Due to the many serious health risks associated with alcohol abuse, individuals with this problem should seek help from an addiction treatment program.