It’s a common fear to have that your teenager or teenagers might one day come across drugs and fall into addiction. It happens every day and has been a problem for many years. But why is it that we’ve come to associate teens with the dangers of drugs?
This has a lot to do with teen physiologyand the effects that drugs have on ourbrains during different parts of our lives. During teen and adolescentyears, our minds change in ways different from when we’re children orfull-grown adults. During those turbulent years, there’s more than just growthspurts happening along with puberty. Our brains are also changing, in some waysmore drastically than others.
One part of the brain that changesdrastically in a teenager is their pleasure center. During those teen years,their pleasure centers are developing faster than other parts, including their parts for analyzing risk and making better decisions. This is why it’s easy forteens to make risky decisions and seek thrilling scenarios. It’s also why teensmay make decisions that lead to other scenarios such as unwanted pregnancy, alcoholism, smoking, and drugs. They’re simply not developed enough to properlyweigh actions versus consequences.
The Effects of Drug Abuse on Teens
Since the brain is in the process of developing a lot of important connections needed for proper function in adulthood, drug abuse can lead to the disruption of this development. This can result in a lot of issues that can last into the rest of the teen’s life. Drug abuse can damage those important connections in the brain, impairing their ability to think or process as well as they should. It can cause problems with memory. Drugs such as heroin can cause problems with experiencing pleasure without the stimulation of drugs. In that same process, the brain can develop bad habits of reliance on those drugs in order to experience a sense of normality. And then there’s the fact that teens are still learning and are in school — drug abuse can lead to the impairment of learning, which can lead to teens missing out on important information and opportunities that they should otherwise be able to tap into.
And all of these effects can compound themselves as the teen grows into adulthood. Fighting addiction, trying to compensate for neurological impairments, and even trying to repair