Researchers have announced Monday at Neuroscience 2010, the Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego, California, that teens are actually more vulnerable to the harmful effects drugs and alcohol have on the brain.
From the perspective that that addiction is a form of learning, it totally makes sense that teens are more susceptible to addiction!
Just like teenagers can learn something like a foreign language much easier than adults, they can also develop an addiction easier, which could damage their developing brain.
A study at Harvard Medical School found that people who began smoking marijuana before the age of 16 and who used it the most performed the worst on a test of cognitive flexibility, meaning the ability to change response to something based on the context of the situation.
To put it simply, they were a bit slower than the rest of the herd.
According to Dr. Frances Jensen of Children’s Hospital Boston:
“Brain development is actively transpiring even in the teen brain, and [if] you throw in a drug on top of that, you could change the trajectory of brain development."
The effects of getting high in the teen brain are longer-lasting than in the adults and cannabis can stay teen’s systems longer, affecting the building blocks of learning and memory.
Just as there are likely more receptors in a teenage brain for drugs to bind to, alcohol may be binding to receptors in the same way, creating more problems for the teenage brain and harming it more profoundly than adults!
This enlightening information makes it more clear than ever that parents need to begin talking about drugs and alcohol with their kids at a younger age or we need to get Scruff McGruff back on the case!
[Image via AP Images.]