Brain Development and the Teenage Years
The adolescent years are often marked with incredible physical, psychological, and emotional development. Teenage bodies go through tremendous changes in a short period of time and adolescent brains are still maturing well into their 20s. In fact, the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25, which is a main reason why teens indulge in risky behaviors and lack the full ability to reason and control impulses that lead to poor choices.
Because their brains are still developing, substance use and abuse can damage their growing bodies and minds. The immaturity of the brain can also lead to a faster progression of addiction for teens who start using damaging substances at an early age, making it more difficult to ward off and/or break the cycle of substance addiction.
Teens are also socially more susceptible to substance use and abuse. Because the brain is not fully developed, adolescents are more prone to influences from their peer groups as well as social media. In many cases, the teen brain does not process the theory of consequences for their actions, leading to experimentation and risk-taking.
One of the brain areas still maturing during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain that enables us to assess situations, make sound decisions, and keep our emotions and desires under control. The fact that this critical part of an adolescent’s brain is still a work in progress puts them at increased risk for making poor decisions (such as trying drugs or continuing to take them).
[Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse][Source: BrainFacts.org]
- Video – The teen mind is primed for addiction - https://youtu.be/UNAbf3J3lR0