Alcohol, Drugs, and Brain Development:
How Alcohol and Drugs Derail Brain Development
Studies show that exposure to alcohol and drugs during adolescence may interrupt the natural course of brain maturation and key processes of brain development. There’s evidence that suggests brain development may be more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol during adolescence, as well. The impact of drugs and alcohol on the developing brain can have harmful effects on academic, occupational and social functioning that can extend into adulthood.
Consuming alcohol can change the brain’s structure and functions, altering blood flows and electrical activity. Recent research shows heavy alcohol use may affect brain functioning in early adolescence, even in youths who are physically healthy. Changes like these can impact long-term brain functioning.
Drugs tap into the brain’s communication system and disrupt the way nerve cells normally send, receive and process information. Different drugs work differently, and some can continue to affect the brain long after the person has stopped taking them, sometimes permanently.
Early recognition of substance abuse and addiction in a teen is crucial. Teens cannot be expected to understand the full range of consequences they face regarding their drug and alcohol use.