Scientific studies continuously conclude that adolescents are far more prone to developing drug addiction than adults. A new finding that points towards why adolescents may be more prone to substance abuse issues may lead to important new developments in youth-oriented addiction treatment.
Adolescents and Drug Addiction
“In two studies with mice and humans to be published together in the journal eLife, the investigators from Baylor College of Medicine, US, have found that the ability to produce (or synthesize) new proteins, regulated by the molecule eIF2, accounts for adolescents’ hypersensitivity to both cocaine and nicotine.”1 This essentially means that the dopamine-rich neurons that reside within adolescent brains have the ability to derive an intense sense of euphoria from taking certain drugs, which in turn leads to the development of psychological dependency. While adults still experience immense amount of pleasure from taking the drugs, the euphoric effect is less intense and not nearly as long-lasting. Adolescents naturally have a lower neurological tolerance.
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The molecule elF2a plays a major role in these findings – it was discovered that by tweaking this molecule within the brain, addiction could potentially be fought in both adolescents and adults. It is also important that adolescents are being thoroughly and adequately educated about the dangers and implications of drug abuse. There are currently many preventative programs in action geared towards educating high school-aged adolescents on the wide-ranging negative impacts of experimentation. Young adults will come into high school assemblies and speak on their personal struggles with heroin addiction. Entire classes will be taught on the history of illicit chemical substance and the consequences of use and abuse. But is this enough?
Preventing Drug Addiction in Adolescents
Unfortunately, no matter how extensive and detailed preventative measures are, adolescents are going to do what they’re going to do. Education is imperative, but it is not always successful in preventing future cases of abuse. What is important is that parents make sure that their children know that they are safe and supportive people to approach and talk to with any questions or concerns. In order to set up an open line of communication, consider saying something along these lines:
“Hey honey. When I was your age I started smoking a lot of pot and drinking; I know how it goes. I also know that there are a lot of weird and dangerous drugs out there now. I just want to make sure you know that you can talk to me about anything that’s going on – I won’t ever get mad at you if you’re honest with me. Honestly is so important. I love you dearly and I just want you to be safe and smart.”
Talk to Your Children
Come from a place of love and understanding rather than disapproval and accusation. For more information on adolescent drug addiction, please contact us at Lighthouse Recovery Institute today.