Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Why the Teenage Brain is Vulnerable to Addiction

The brain is still growing and developing during the teen years, and some of the brain's functions form at different rates than others.

We all know that teens thrive on taking risks and they often don't realise that their actions have consequences. Experimenting with alcohol and drugs is one of the risk they often take during the time their brains are changing.

Teens are more likely to take drugs because they see that they are accepted by their friends, they do not stop to think about the negative impact.

Teens are more likely to perceive social benefits of drug use (such as being accepted among peers or feeling more social) than they are to evaluate the negative effects. If you’re concerned about substance abuse in the life of a teen you know, get in touch with NICRO now for help and support.

Why Substance Abuse is Damaging to the Brain

The teen years are important because they shape how they will turn out as an adult, so it is vital to be healthy during these years. Drug abuse can negatively impact the brain in a way that affects growth and development in later years.

Substance abuse affects teen brain development by:
  • Interfering with neurotransmitters and damaging connections within the brain
  • Reducing the ability to experience pleasure
  • Creating problems with memory
  • Causing missed opportunities during a period of heightened learning potential
  • Ingraining expectations of unhealthy habits into brain circuitry
  • Inhibiting development of perceptual abilities

How Drinking Affects Teens

Binge drinking is a serious problem in the teen community. Studies show that when a teen drinks their brain responds differently compared to when an adult drinks.

In addition to addiction risks, alcohol poses a serious risk to the physical health and growth of teens. Studies have shown that excessive drinking in teens can result in:

  • Delayed puberty and/or negative effects on the reproductive system
  • Lower bone mineral density
  • Higher levels of liver enzymes that indicate liver damage
  • Shorter limbs and reduced growth potential

Social and Professional Risks of Teen Substance Abuse

In addition to the physical risks of teen drinking and drug abuse, there are many other consequences that could haunt teens well into adulthood. Because substance abuse can muddy reasoning and encourage rash decisions, there are many side effects of substance abuse that go far beyond the biological and physiological aspects.

Some of these include:

  • Criminal records
  • Car accidents
  • Assaults
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Unplanned pregnancies
  • Wasted academic opportunities
  • Late start in chosen career path
  • Damaged relationships with friends and family

Get Help!

If you know a teen who is showing dangerous signs of drug or alcohol abuse, OR you feel that you need help, you can change your life or someone else's right now! Get in touch with NICRO today!

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