In last week’s post I talked about how addiction has been determined to be a brain disease and I mentioned that I had read this article in the Indiana Gazette about adolescent substance use and abuse and the problems it can cause in their brains. This week,
I want to talk about how substance abuse and addiction affects the adolescent brain.
Substance use in a fully developed brain…
- Lowers inhibitions
- Impairs judgment
- Decreases motor coordination
- Increases some emotions and decreases others depending on the substance
- Causes thought distortions
- Causes unpredictable behavior
So, If you have adolescent substance use or abuse…
You see all of the immediate affects noted above. That would be bad enough, but, adolescent substance use gets in the way of normal brain development. So in addition to the normal effects of substance abuse, you also see additional long term effects of the substance use in the brain. These effects include:
- Memory problems
- Difficulty with attention span
- Minor or major struggles in processing information
- Social problems in relationships with others
- Academic problems including declining grades and dropping out of school
- Occupational issues
- Changes in the way individuals respond to rewards and consequences
- Arrested emotional development because adolescents use the substance to deal with their feelings rather than learning how to deal with the feelings
- Higher risk for mental health problems
The use of substances during the adolescent period of growth also increases the risk for addiction. According to NIDA: 96.5% of individuals who have an addiction were abusing substances prior to age 21.
As adults, we want to give our youth the highest chance of success in life. Start the conversation. Encourage your adolescents to save their brains and wait to use substances of any kind.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or codependency issues, Contact me today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation to talk about how we can work together or find the right person for you.
L. M. Squeglia, B.A., J. Jacobus, B.A., and S. F. Tapert, Ph.D. The Influence of Substance Use on Adolescent Brain Development. Clin EEG Neurosci. Jan 2009; 40(1): 31–38. NCBI Website
Thomas J. Crowley, M.D. and Elizabeth Whitmore, Ph.D. Five Things to Know About Adolescents’ Brain Development and Use. HBO Addiction Project