Often placing stress on parents, teenagers act impulsively and as if they are invincible. However, new research has discovered that teenagers are more susceptible to brain damage caused by early alcohol and drug use. These findings were unveiled at Neuroscience 2010.
Since brain development is still underway for teenagers, adding chemicals to the process like drugs or alcohol may potentially alter the development.
Cannabis has been shown to be present in a teen brain for up to a week. The drug causes more lasting effects for teenagers than adults, and this can directly harm development of brain function, memory function, and general cognitive ability.
A study at Harvard Medical School discovered that individuals who started smoking marijuana before turning 16 and used it frequently, also performed the worst on a test of the ability to change mental responses based on situational changes.
Additionally, when analyzing brain scans of individuals who smoke marijuana, researchers noticed alterations to the frontal and prefrontal inhibitory areas.
As teenage brains are still developing, the risks of addiction are also drastically increased.
Contents in alcohol have been shown to cause detrimental effects on the teenage brain as well. Again, as the brain is developing, the negative consequences on the brain are more severe than in adults.
Experts urge parents to educate teenagers and prevent drug and alcohol use to protect the long-term health of children and teens.