What’s At Stake

Teen Brain

Wonder why 90% of addictions start in the teen years?

Change is Certain

You’re going through a lot of changes right now. Especially your brain – which won’t be finished developing until you’re about 24.

It’s proven that the younger you are, the easier it is for your brain to become dependent on things like alcohol and other drugs. Exposing your brain to these substances sooner rather than later results in huge negatives, and could definitely mean a longer road towards recovery.

What Could It Hurt?

Alcohol and other drugs temporarily increase the chemical messenger in your brain called dopamine, which makes you feel good. But this system can be ‘hijacked’ when you use alcohol or drugs while your brain is still developing.

When you use drugs or alcohol, a new neuropathway is built based on reward. As with learning something new, this circuit is easier to build and strengthen in your young and agile brain. The result is that you can become addicted more quickly – and more heavily – than adults do. And, you may not even recognize that you rely on these substances to feel normal – and may need more of them to feel the same effects.

Drugs and alcohol have more permanent and lasting effects on the teenage brain. Even short-term use can interfere with your ability to learn and remember – and impact your academic success.

Using drugs and alcohol interferes with your brain’s ability to produce its own feel good chemicals – so you might not enjoy activities, feel depressed and may not enjoying hanging out with your friends like you used to.

You might not do as well in school – including sports and activities. You could also get in trouble with the law, limiting your future.

3 Key Takeaways
  • Drugs or alcohol don’t make you cool. Not all of your friends are drinking, smoking or using drugs.
  • Get involved in fun activities that give you a natural dopamine rush – skiing, surfing or indoor skydiving.
  • Find something that brings you joy – whether it’s an online community, a local social cause – or a group at your church or school.