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Drugs effects on the teenage brain

February 27, 2015

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, You and Your Adolescent, Laurence Steinberg says, “Drugs may not rot teenagers’ brains, but they may change the brain in ways that make teens far more likely to develop substance abuse problems, even addictions, later on” (p. 213).

In other words…
Tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drug use is much worse for the adolescent brain than it is for adults. During adolescence, the reward-related parts of our brains are especially susceptible to environmental agents, such as tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. If drugs are repeatedly taken during these times, these reward regions of the brain can be affected in such a way as to make it necessary to use drugs in order to experience typical amounts of pleasure.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…
Prevention is the key to solving the adolescent drug problem. Create opportunities to have candid, informational discussions with your youth. Ask them what questions they have about drug use, about why their friends or other teenagers might drink or use drugs. Ask about the pressures they are feeling. As they respond, LISTEN. Do not lecture!

Once you have listened, talk about the myths and facts that go with drug use.

Finally, help your child to anticipate difficult situations where they are offered alcohol or drugs, and role play how they can respond without losing face.

To find out more…

about drug-prevention, check out the National Institute on Drug Abuse:, the Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free Foundation:, and the Foundation for a Smokefree America:

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You can also read You and Your Adolescent.

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