Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What Causes Addictions In The Teenage Brain

Parenting Strategy: Offer Conditional Amnesty

The Teenage Brain and Addiction

When we have open, ongoing conversations with our teens about drugs, they will feel empowered to see you as an ally instead of an authoritarian. Many parents use what is called an amnesty policy. An amnesty policy allows your teen to seek your assistance if they are placed in a compromising position without the fear of consequences. In this instance, your child will call you and ask for your help. You will guarantee that in these moments, you will not impose regular consequences such as a punishment. Instead, you will focus on getting them out of harms way. Then, of course, when the time is right, you will discuss the incident and express how proud you are for your teen to have contacted you instead of making a wrong choice.

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Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.

  • Pappas, Stephanie. . This Is Your Brain On Drugs . Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
  • Saplakoglu, Yasemin. . How Drug Addiction Hijacks The Brian. Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
  • . . Whats The Difference Between Biofeedback And Neurofeedback? Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
  • Dimeff, Linda. Linehan, Marsha. . Dialectical Behavior Therapy For Substance Abuse. Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
  • Gray, Sarah. . An Overview of The Use Of Neurofeedback Biofeedback For The Treatment Of Symptoms Of Traumatic Brain Injury In Military And Civilian Populations. Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at

Clinically Reviewed:

How Does The Brain Create Craving

Neuroscience research shows that there is a pattern to craving, a rise and fall of craving over a period of time. Craving always starts with a cueit is triggered by some sight or sound or memory or body sensation associated with the drug or its effects. The brains amygdala recognizes the emotional significance of the cue and increases its rate of firing then, a tide of dopamine released in the goal-oriented nucleus accumbens drives the seeking of drugs. The amygdala and nucleus accumbens both connect to many parts of the thinking brain, and they, in turn, pile on more thoughts related to the drugthe pathway to craving.

Craving peaks at 60 days of abstinence among alcoholics, studies show. For meth users, it peaks at three months of abstinence. There are techniques for dampening or diverting thinking in response to drug cues, including meditation, but the most powerful of all ways to drown out craving may be by getting connected to others.

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Why Are The Brains Of Teens And Young Adults So Prone To Addiction And Its Deadly Consequences

It is well-established that teenagers and young adults tend to be more vulnerable to addiction and other forms of reckless behavior compared to other age groups. And when they do become addicted, the consequences are often more severe.

A group of neurologists convened recently to discuss these problems at The Addicted Brain and New Treatment Frontiers: Sixth Annual Aspen Brain Forum. The forum was presented by Science Translational Medicine and the New York Academy of Sciences.

According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future survey, 35 percent of 12th grade students admitted to drinking alcohol in the past 30 days. Almost 40 percent said they had been drunk in the past year. And six percent said they smoke marijuana every single day.1 Thats more than the number who smoke tobacco cigarettes , which has been on the decline for several years now.

Since neurologists specialize in the brain, the bodys most complex organ, the science behind their discussions tend to be highly specialized and complex. But in a briefing by The New York Academy of Sciences, certain conclusions about addiction among teens and young adults can be made based on new research, and new ideas about how to prevent and treat addiction among teens and young adults also are emerging. Here are five takeaways from the forum.

How Does Addiction Work In The Brain

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Repeated use of a drug changes the wiring of the brain in a number of ways. It stimulates the nucleus accumbens, and overactivity of the nucleus accumbens progressively weakens its connectivity to the prefrontal cortex, seat of executive functioning. One result is impaired judgment, decision-making, and impulse control, a hallmark of addiction.

Neuroscience research supports the idea that addiction is a habit that becomes quickly and deeply entrenched and self-perpetuating, rapidly rewiring the circuitry of the brain because it is aided and abetted by the power of dopamine. Under the unrestrained influence of dopamine, the brain becomes highly efficient in wanting the drug it focuses attention on anything drug-related and prunes away nerve connections that respond to other inputs. The biological weakening of decision-making areas in the brain suggests why addicts pursue and consume drugs even in the face of negative consequences or the knowledge of positive outcomes that might come from quitting the drugs.

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Why Are Teens More Susceptible To Drug Addiction Than Adults

Perhaps you never knew that teens suffer from drug addiction more easily than adults do. Teen drug addiction is NOT just the result of teens:

  • Having no self-respect
  • Suffering from peer pressure

Drug addiction is a complex disease that affects the brain in many ways. Involvement of the brain in drug addiction helps explain the primary reasons that teenagers are more susceptible. This is true no matter what substance is the teens drug of choice.

Main Causes Of Teen Addiction

If young adults use alcohol before age 15, their risk for alcohol dependence or abuse is six times greater than if they started at 21, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When you find out your teen or a teen you love has fallen prey to addiction to drugs or alcohol, you might ask yourself these questions:

  • Why has this happened?
  • Is there something I could have done to prevent this?
  • Is this my fault?

It is completely normal to have these thoughts and feelings, but its important to recognize that there are many factors that could contribute to addiction. Some teens are more prone to addiction because of their social environment at home or school and the normalcy of drug or alcohol use. Others might be more likely to become an addict because of hereditary factors such as depression or other co-occurring disorders. Still others may use alcohol and drugs as an escape from the challenges of teen life. A combination of these factors is possible as well.

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Drugs Interfere With A Time Of Major Brain Development

The teenage years are a time of major development of the brain, particularly those areas associated with maturity, self-control, and decision-making. This lack of complete development in the brain of teenagers explains a variety of teen behavior such as risky and impulsive behaviors and actions. They seek immediate gratification without regard or complete knowledge of the long-term consequences. When teens experiment with drugs, they get that immediate gratification and seek it out repeatedly.

Health Effects Of Teen Substance Abuse: Social And Professional Risks

The Teenage Brain Is Primed For Addiction

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 that cannot be expunged.
  • Delayed or deferred career opportunities.
  • Damaged relationships with friends and family,

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Reinforcing The Importance Of Prevention And Treatment

The health significance of preventing drug use by youth and halting use if it starts is only further strengthened by the various risks created or, at minimum, enabled when a teenager with a developing brain uses drugs. The safest course for an adolescent is to refrain from all drug use while the brain is developing. A less ideal course is to delay the onset of drug use until as late as possible during the teenage years doing so at least has the potential to reduce a young persons risk for developing a substance use disorder during adulthood. Of course, it is crucial for adolescents with a substance use disorder to reduce or abstain from use. The messages that highlight the social and legal consequences of drug use which reinforce the public health significance of prevention and treatment can now be bolstered with the consequences of early drug use on the developing brain.

Impact On Brain Development And Growth

The human brain continues developing until about the age of 25. Introducing substances during adolescence changes brain structure, affecting learning, processing emotions, and decision-making.

  • More risky behaviors: Substance abuse increases risky behaviors like unprotected sex or dangerous driving.
  • Higher risk for adult health problems: Teenagers who abuse substances have a higher risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.
  • Mental health disorders: It is common for those with substance abuse disorders to have mental health disorders and vice versa.
  • Impaired academic performance: Substance use affects a teens concentration and memory, which may negatively impact their schoolwork.

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What Are The Long

If your teens development is disrupted, their life ahead becomes rife with new hurdles. The most obvious consequence is difficulty in school. Kids who get into drugs and alcohol often become outcasts among classmates and not simply because their reputations may suffer due to their choice of habits. As their substance use slows their brains development, they can have massive difficulty keeping up in class. Theyll start to see their test scores drop. Their minds begin to wander during lessons. This can lead a teen to need remedial classes or even repeat grades, greatly harming their chances of getting into a good college or career.

In addition to school problems , these teens may develop dangerous behaviors and habits. These can include unsafe sex, criminal behavior and the increasing risk of doing more drugs. It can become a vicious cycle that makes it harder for kids to reach their potential, form good relationships and lead happy lives.

Getting Treatment For Drug Use And Mental Health Problems

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When a person is struggling with drug abuse, it puts them at higher risk of developing a mental health disorder. Similarly, when someone is battling a mental illness, it puts them at an increased risk for drug addiction. This is due to the causal effect between mental health and substance use.

Adolescents and young adults are especially at risk. Because their brains are still developing, they are more vulnerable to the negative effects of drug abuse. In turn, they are also more at risk for developing a mental illness as a result of that drug use.

For this reason, parents must step in and get involved. Adolescents showing signs of substance abuse or mental health distress should never be ignored. While these symptoms could be mistaken as just a phase or typical teenage behavior, they more likely signal a concerning and developing mental health problem, in which professional treatment is necessary.

People struggling with co-occurring mental health and drug use problems require a specialized form of treatment, called dual diagnosis treatment or co-occurring disorder treatment. This type of integrated treatment in which all aspects of a persons condition are evaluated and addressed positions an individual for long-term recovery and success.

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If A Family Member Was Addicted Will I Become Addicted

The vast majority of children whose parents abuse alcohol or drugs do not grow up to do the same. However, they are at some increased risk for doing so, and there are a number of reasons why. For one, they are exposed to those substances, and exposure during early adolescence may especially influence substance use.

For another, they may inherit whatever genetic or biological vulnerabilities laid the groundwork for a parental addiction. But they may also be more prone to addiction because they suffer from cognitive, emotional, or behavioral problems known to arise in children as a consequence of growing up in a home marked by substance use for example, as children they are at increased risk of neglect, abuse, or a poor quality parent-child relationship.

Coffee And Donuts Soda And Candy Recipe For Failure

So, someone goes into treatment or a 12-Step meeting desperate and committed to sobriety. They enter with depleted neurotransmitters and a starving brain. Often they are in withdrawal, craving, foggy, depressed and anxious at best. They are told they need pharmaceutical drugs to deal with their symptoms.

Sometimes candy are encouraged to stop the craving. Many addicts then switch their addiction to sugar, which should be classified as a potent addictive drug. The desperate addict gains too much weight and stays moody.

There are treatment programs residents are fed healthy food and feel better. They often return to their former unhealthy eating habits when they leave, however. No one taught them how to shop or cook for themselves.

They know to avoid hunger but not what to feed their brains and how vital it is to avoid SUGAR. They have been given zero instruction on the nutrition supplements so essential to healing their broken brain chemistry. Is it any wonder the relapse rate is so high?

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Adolescent Substance Use And The Brain: Behavioral Cognitive And Neuroimaging Correlates

  • Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada

Adolescence is an important ontogenetic period that is characterized by behaviors such as enhanced novelty-seeking, impulsivity, and reward preference, which can give rise to an increased risk for substance use. While substance use rates in adolescence are generally on a decline, the current rates combined with emerging trends, such as increases in e-cigarette use, remain a significant public health concern. In this review, we focus on the neurobiological divergences associated with adolescent substance use, derived from a cross-sectional, retrospective, and longitudinal studies, and highlight how the use of these substances during adolescence may relate to behavioral and neuroimaging-based outcomes. Identifying and understanding the associations between adolescent substance use and changes in cognition, mental health, and future substance use risk may assist our understanding of the consequences of drug exposure during this critical window.

The Effect Of Marijuana On The Teenage Brain

How Does Alcohol Affect the Teen Brain?

When a person uses marijuana, the principal psychoactive chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol passes from the lungs or digestive tract into the bloodstream. The blood carries THC to the brain, where it acts on specific cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are predominantly found in areas of the brain associated with concentration, thinking, sensory and time perception, pleasure, memory, and coordination.3 Over activation of these areas by THC causes the high that people feel.4 such as attention, memory, and learning, and these effects can last up to several days beyond the time of actual high.5

Unfortunately for teenagers, marijuana use can have much more long-term effects. The teenage brain is not yet fully mature, with neurodevelopment continuing until at least the early or mid-20s. During adolescence the brain is particularly sensitive to drug exposure, and marijuana use impacts how connections are formed within the brain.3 Other effects on the developing brain include interference with neurotransmitters and abnormal brain shape and structure volume.6

Studies have shown that the use of marijuana is associated with reduced cognitive function in teens.7 One study found that teens who regularly use marijuana lose an average of 5.8 IQ points by the time they reach adulthood.8 A recent study found that marijuana has a more negative impact on a teenagers cognitive development than alcohol.9

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Other Causes Of Teen Drug Abuse

There are many other causes of teen drug abuse. Some of the most common include:

  • Co-occurring mental illness, also known as dual diagnosis

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If you wish to explore additional treatment options or connect with a specific rehab center, you can: browse top-rated listings, visit our homepage, or visit SAMHSA, at, or by calling 800-662-HELP. You may also contact The Florida Department of Children and Family Services at

What Causes Teens To Abuse Drugs

Teen drug use is a major problem. The younger a child is when they begin to abuse drugs and alcohol, the more likely they are to develop an addiction and the more severe their addiction is likely to be. Even worse, teen drug abuse can cause serious and lifelong problems, including brain damage, missing out on important life milestones, and even death. This makes it important to recognize the causes of teen drug abuse and hopefully prevent them

Although recent statistics suggest that teen drug use is . As positive as this trend is, millions of teenagers continue to turn to drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons. Learning about the causes of teenage substance abuse can better equip parents and other family members to stay engaged with and supportive of young people.

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