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How Does Addiction Affect the Developing Brain?

Addiction often begins in teenage years before the brain has fully developed. Recent research into the effects of alcohol and drugs on adolescent brain development has shown that it creates detrimental abnormalities. The significance of brain alteration as a result of substances varies based on type of substance and frequency of use, but even minor changes can cause problems related to brain structure, functioning, and neurocognition.

Adolescence is a crucial time for brain development, and substance use can interfere with the brain’s ability to develop normally. According to a Clinical EEG and Neuroscience article entitled The Influence of Substance Use on Adolescent Brain Development, “While the developing brain may be more resilient to neurotoxic effects, exposure to alcohol and drugs during a period of critical neurological development may interrupt the natural course of brain maturation and key processes of brain development. In fact, adolescence may be a period of heightened vulnerability for alcohol’s effect on the brain.”

The use of drugs and alcohol during this period in a person’s life can change or damage the brain’s development in a variety of ways. According to The Science and Management of Addictions Foundation (SAMA), “Firstly, psychoactive substances often target and alter function of neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that allow nerves to communicate at their junctions. Interference with neurotransmitters can directly damage fragile developing neural connections. Secondly, use of these substances alters perception and may interfere with the developing perceptual skills. And finally, the habits and choices associated with the use of drugs and alcohol slowly become ingrained in the wiring of the brain. Repeated action becomes habit and the habits of thought, perception, and reasoning developed in childhood and adolescence can stay with a person throughout his or her lifetime.” The alterations of neurotransmitters in the adolescent brain as a result of substance use creates a greater likelihood of addiction developing.

Early intervention is necessary to diminish the risk of serious damage to the brain in adolescence. Nobody is too young to receive treatment for addiction and alcoholism. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, “The good news is that addiction is treatable. The treatment approach to substance abuse depends on several factors, including a child’s temperament and willingness to change. It may take several attempts at treatment before a child remains drug-free. For those teens who are treated for addiction, will have a life of recovery.”

You do not have to suffer from diminished health as a result of addiction and alcoholism. Recovery is possible, and you can build a happy, healthy future by making the decision to seek help today. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers adult programs for men and women that ensure a safe location where clients can relate to staff and other clients in similar walks of life and learn to rebuild their relationships and roles within their communities. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431