It’s all about the brain!
From early adolescence to the mid-20s, the brain continues to develop from the back to the front. The last part to mature, the Prefrontal Cortex, controls reasoning and impulses and does not fully mature until about age 25.
Therefore, teens have…
> difficulty holding back or controlling emotions,
> preference for physical activity,
> preference for high excitement and low effort activities (video games, sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll),
> or planning and judgment (rarely thinking of negative consequences), and more risky, impulsive behaviors, including experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
Teen substance use has effects that may last…
> Research shows that alcohol abuse during the teenage years negatively impacts the memory center of the brain. The hippocampus— in charge of memory and learning— and the frontal lobe, which is responsible for critical thinking and decision making, can shrink by 10%!
> The use of drugs and alcohol disrupts the development of the adolescent brain in unhealthy ways, making it harder for teens to cope with social situations and the normal pressures of life.
> The brain’s reward circuits (the dopamine system) get thrown out of whack when under the influence. This causes a teen’s mood to change when not using drugs or alcohol – and going back for more only makes things worse.
Next: 40 Developmental Assets For Youth