It’s no secret that many people experiment with drugs in their teens. Infrequent recreational drug use can lead to substance abuse. The teenage brain reacts differently to drugs than the adult brain does, making the potential long-term effects of teen drug abuse dangerous. Fortunately, the right substance abuse programs can promote change before it’s too late.
Teenage Brain Development
Experts say that the brain doesn’t fully develop until around age 27. During the teenage years, however, the brain becomes more efficient. Connections that are used more frequently are strengthened, and unnecessary synapses become pruned.
When the proper connections are made and encouraged to develop, the adult brain becomes more focused. Abusing drugs during these vital years can discourage the brain from forming those connections.
Teen drug abuse can impair learning potential, memory, and concentration. These impairments can detract from their ability to function optimally as adults.
Reinforcing Unhealthy Habits
Drugs interfere with the pleasure center of your brain. Although your body secretes natural chemicals that make you feel good, many drugs deliver a more powerful mood boost.
Our brains are wired to encourage you to continue to perform activities that activate the reward circuit in the brain. This is what makes people reach for chocolate cake or get together with friends. These activities make you feel good.
When drugs stimulate the same reward system, they promote drug-seeking and substance-consuming behaviors. The chemical dependency can create a habit that affects adolescents for the rest of their lives.
Physical Effects Of Teen Drug Abuse
Teenagers can develop dangerous medical conditions as a result of using drugs. Many chemicals, including alcohol and ecstasy, can contribute to heart or liver failure. Snorting drugs can damage the lining of the respiratory system.
You can overdose on almost any drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens says that illicit opioids caused more than half of the overdose deaths in the 15-to-24 age group in 2015.
Drug abuse also impairs judgment. Getting high can make teenagers more likely to take part in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sexual activity or impaired driving.
Even using marijuana as an adolescent can permanently impair cognitive function. Researchers have found that teenagers who frequently use marijuana can lose IQ points that don’t return when they quit.
Teen Drug Abuse Increases The Risk Of Addiction
Using drugs as a teenager can increase the likelihood that you’ll be addicted as an adult. Other factors that contribute to drug abuse are:
- A permissive environment
- Poor academic performance
- Parents who use drugs
- Exposure to stress
- Emotional, physical or sexual abuse
Ashley Addiction Treatment understands the unique requirements for helping adolescents overcome drug addiction. Our Young Adult Program caters to that demographic while addressing their past, present, and future needs through effective substance abuse counseling.