Addiction Parenting substance abuse

How Drugs Affect a Teen’s Brain


Drug abuse is becoming an ever increasing pandemic due to the increased ability and ease in which illegal drugs can be obtained. Drugs are becoming more of an everyday habit and many teens do not realize the negative long-term effects it can have on their brains. I’m not just talking about street drugs either. I’m also talking about alcohol (which is a drug) and prescription pills, as they are used regular by teens looking for a “high”.

Growing up as a teenager in today’s fast paced world already presents challenges, and while these challenges are typically normal, teens are looking for more and more ways to numb their feelings while they are faced with difficult decisions about their futures. Teenagers often stumble upon illegal drugs from friends, family, school, or peer pressure, and the satisfaction they get from a quick high is often what draws the teenager to become a repeat user and thus, leading to addiction.

Teen Drug Addiction

Illegal drugs can be extremely addicting and teens can easily become dependent on them without realizing it. Once a drug is in the body, the central nervous system, vascular system, muscular system, and the brain are all affected and the mind no longer has control. Teens can become so addicted to the feeling of the drug in their system that they no longer have the control to stop using it. Once an addiction begins, it can be extremely difficult to break it. The drug will take over the teen’s brain and begin to control every aspect of his/her life. Drugs will be all that they can think about.

Drug Dependence

Once your brain becomes dependent on a drug, you will feel as though you need to have it. In fact, your brain will scream for it. There’s actually a part of the brain that thinks it will die if it does not get another surge of dopamine (the chemical that increases when drugs are used). It will become a part of your everyday life just like drinking water and eating a meal. Since the dependence on the drug has completely taken over the teens ability to rationalize and make conscious, smart decisions, it can be much easier for a teen to do whatever they see necessary to acquire the drug. Teens could resort to stealing money to buy the drug, having sex with a dealer to be given the drug, and even allowing everything they once had to be lost or taken away just so they can have one more “hit”.

Brain damage can occur

There have been many cases in which drugs have permanently damaged a brain. Over-using drugs can cause memory loss, amnesia, inability to concentrate, and serious brain problems such as schizophrenia and paranoia. Over time, the drug is slowly killing the brain cells that are needed to live a productive, normal life. Drugs truly can take over a teen’s life and the long-term effects are devastating. The long-term effects can include, brain shrinkage, learning disabilities, physical and mental disabilities, and a myriad of other problems. These problems are often irreversible and will greatly affect the user’s life for many years.

Behavioral problems

Since drugs can have such a huge impact on a teen’s life, controlling emotions can become more challenging. This can cause trouble in school, trouble with the law, and trouble with friends and family members. Since the drug is taking over a teen’s ability to rationalize, they overcompensate by having extreme emotional reactions and becoming defensive when confronted about the addiction. Typically the first ones who notice the addiction are not friends and family; they are their peers, such as, school advisors, employers, teachers, and acquaintances.

The effects of drugs for teenagers are life-long and heartbreaking. It is important to realize that once an addiction has begun, breaking the addiction can be difficult and can seem impossible at times. Reaching out for help is recommended, as substance abuse professionals and rehabs are well-equipped to assist. With over two million teenagers addicted to drugs currently, it’s not a secret that our teens are in need of some help through organizations like  Narcotics Anonymous.

It is important for teenagers and parents today to understand and know the consequences of using an illegal substance to hopefully put an end to this grave epidemic. Just Say No is the best way to steer clear from becoming addicted to drugs, so when you’re tempted, Just Say No!


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Dominica Applegate is an author and writer who is passionate about things like empowerment, self-love, and spiritual enlightenment. Her background is addiction and mental health, working 12 years in the field before launching her writing business.

About the author

Dominica Applegate

Dominica Applegate is an author and writer who is passionate about things like empowerment, self-love, and spiritual enlightenment. Her background is addiction and mental health, working 12 years in the field before launching her writing business.

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