Drug use is prominent across different age ranges of young adults. When drug use starts to interfere with daily activities, then the condition becomes a substance use disorder. Examples of substances linked to substance use include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines, inhalants, and anabolic steroids.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),1 over seventy thousand individuals in the United States lost their lives due to overdose in 2017. Adolescents may have some of the most prevalent rates of substance use according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

According to a study on the trends of drug use in adolescents, 81.4% of the older adolescents reported having the chance to use drugs. The research also shows that the median age at the start of drug abuse was 14 years with dependence and 15 years without dependence.     


How Drug Use in Young Adults Affects the Developing Brain

Drug use has both physical and mental negative effects on young adults. The human brain is a complex organ, and substance use influences how it functions. Note that the brain regulates the overall function of the body, especially for interpreting and responding to signals.  

In teenagers, substance use can affect the brain in two significant ways: brain development and memory.

Brain Development

According to research, it’s evident that the brain is in its development process during young adulthood or adolescence. The brain creates different connections between the brain cells before adolescence. 3 Between the ages of 11 and 12, the brain starts to prune back several of those connections. The pruning process clears unused wiring for faster and efficient information processing.

Young adults can experience a substantial volume change in the gray and white matter parts of the brain. There are various non-linear developments of neural systems in the body of teens. Due to these imbalances in the brain, it is extremely risky for young individuals to participate in substance use. 4


Substance use also plays a role in memory loss or lack of concentration in young adults. The medical condition associated with loss of memory is called amnesia, but it’s not a common experience for young individuals. Common drugs that may result in memory problems include anti-anxiety drugs, alcohol, and opioids. Substance use is not a prominent cause of memory loss, but it may play a role.

Risk Factors for Drug Use in Young Adults

Various factors may increase the chances of young adults engaging in substance abuse. Generally, these risk factors deal with the social aspects of adolescents. Here are some of the significant risk factors of substance use: 

  • Peer Pressure: Peer pressure defines the method by which individuals of the same social group can influence one another. In most cases, peer pressure defines negative influences from other teens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, peer pressure overrides the fear of taking risks. For this reason, an adolescent may engage in substance use to influence their peers.5
  • Stress: Chronic stress is one of the major risk factors of substance use in teenagers. Different substances serve as a coping mechanism for stress in adolescents, including those due to physical, emotional, or mental stressors. Common stressors include conflicts with loved ones, death of a loved one, illness, legal problems, and moving home, or changing jobs.
  • Depression and Anxiety: One of the major causes of substance use in teenagers is depression and anxiety. Social anxiety disorder describes a condition where individuals feel nervous or self-conscious in public or social scenarios. Both substance use disorders and anxiety are the most frequent problems in the United States with lifetime rates of 14.6% and 28.8%.6
  • Trauma: Childhood traumatic experiences or trauma during adolescence plays a role in substance use. Examples of traumatic experiences include physical assault, sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, emotional or verbal abuse, and natural disasters.7 Teens react to trauma differently, depending on their personalities and environment. Common responses to trauma include nightmares, difficulty concentrating, irritability, anger, anxiety, denial, and depression.
  • Family Circumstances: Family circumstances, like the divorce of parents, can make adolescents start abusing substances. If a parent engages in substance use, it may also result in substance use by their child during adolescence or young adulthood. Unemployment is also an example of a family circumstance that causes substance use.

Video: Teen Health: Substance Use and Abuse

00:08 [understanding substance use and abuse] misuse of substances like alcohol and 00:14 drugs is a growing problem in the U.S. and teens and young adults are most at 00:19 risk with half of all new drug users being under the age of 18 and one in 00:24 five high school students having abused prescription drugs. 00:28 additionally, one-third of high school students currently use alcohol, 23% use 00:33 marijuana, and 22% use all forms of tobacco combined. decision-making in 00:40 teens involves a chemical called dopamine in the brain’s reward center. 00:44 dopamine helps transmit signals in the brain that make people feel happy. the 00:49 number of brain receptors interacting with dopamine is higher in adolescents 00:52 than at any other time of life. that means that when a teen is exposed to a 00:57 reward, such as a compliment, the reward center reacts more strongly than it 01:01 would for an adult. also, being with friends increases the sensitivity to 01:05 rewards and makes the already sensitive reward system even more sensitive. 01:10 feeling rewards more strongly and responding more intensely to what peers 01:14 may think means that there are biological reasons for why teens 01:17 sometimes decide to do things with their friends that they would never do on 01:21 their own. this can be positive by encouraging 01:24 friends to take on new challenges but it can also lead to dangerous decisions 01:29 such as drug and alcohol use. drug use and abuse can contribute to harmful 01:34 short and long-term health risks. in fact, drug abuse can have long-term effects on 01:39 a developing teenage brain. MRI scans of the brain have shown that people who 01:44 have been using drugs for a long time have a smaller prefrontal cortex than 01:48 people who have not been using drugs. the prefrontal cortex is the area where 01:53 decision-making occurs. drug use can result in poor grades, memory loss, and 01:58 social problems. a lot of us have an idea about what a person dependent on drugs 02:04 looks like. however, anyone can suffer from this type of addiction. addiction 02:09 doesn’t depend on income, job, race, or color. it is a disease of the 02:14 brain that can happen to anyone. drug dependency is when a person 02:19 consumes alcohol or drugs regularly despite the fact that it causes issues 02:23 in their life and relationships with others. get help if you need it. encourage 02:29 your friends to get help too. if you or someone you love is struggling 02:33 with drug use or abuse call -800-662-HELP or visit www.easyread.drugabuse.gov

Diagnosing Drug Use in Young Adults

Diagnosing substance use requires proper evaluation and a review of the individual’s medical condition. During diagnoses, the psychiatrist reviews many factors before concluding a disorder. Note that licensed drug counselors also help in diagnosing substance use in young adults.

For diagnosing substance use in adolescents, most mental health experts use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The first step in diagnosis depends on the person, a friend, or a family member admitting the need for treatment and recovery.

After acknowledging the need for treatment, the mental health professional will ask questions relating to the frequency of use, impairment of daily activities, and pattern of use for social, educational, and occupational areas. According to the DSM-5, substance use is divided into different categories, which include:

  • Alcohol-related
  • Opioid-related
  • Sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic-related
  • Stimulant-related
  • Tobacco-related
  • Other substance-related
  • Caffeine-related
  • Cannabis-related
  • Hallucinogen-related
  • Inhalant-related
  • Non-substance-related

For a young adult to receive a diagnosis for substance use, he or she should display two of the following criteria with a year (12 months):

  • More use of the drug due to increased tolerance
  • Longer time using a substance for a specific effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms when individual stops using
  • Physical or psychological conditions due to use
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop using
  • Neglected responsibilities resulting from substance use
  • Hazardous use of the drug
  • Usage of more amounts or extended use
  • Social problems connected to using
  • Constant cravings
  • Quitting some activities due to use

The number of criteria an individual displays determines the severity of substance use and dependence. An individual with four or five of the criteria has a moderate substance use disorder, while individuals with six or more have a severe addiction.   

Signs of Young Adults Using Drugs

There are various warning signs and symptoms that indicate substance use in young adults. Most of the symptoms of substance use in teenagers relate to their behavioral reactions. Some individuals may also have physical symptoms that signify substance use.


Physical Signs

The physical signs of substance use are related to factors that affect the body system. All of these signs are visible and demand immediate or early medical care. Here are the significant physical signs of substance use in teens:

  • Frequent illness
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Runny nose or nosebleeds
  • Sores or spots around the mouth
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Skin bruises
  • Constant perspiration
  • Seizures and vomiting

Behavioral Signs

The behavioral signs of substance use are also visible, but they don’t have a direct influence on the individual’s health. Most of the behavioral signs affect the adolescent’s social life, including relationships with friends and family. Here are the different behavioral signs of substance use in teenagers:

  • Bad relationship with family and friends
  • Loss of interest in secondary school
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Lack of coordination or poor balance
  • Insomnia
  • Cutting ties with people
Most young individuals may have both visible physical and behavioral signs. If any physical or behavioral sign is evident, endeavor to consult a mental health professional for help.

Consequences of Drug Use for Young Adults

Drug use influences teens in different areas of life. The consequences of substance use may be physical issues like lung disease, memory problems, heart conditions, and seizures. Behavioral problems and social challenges are also major consequences of substance abuse. Further consequences include issues with:

  • Health: Various health conditions result from substance use. Examples of these conditions include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, gastrointestinal effects, neurological effects, hepatitis, and musculoskeletal disorders. Smoking cigarettes is connected to cancer of the mouth, stomach, and lungs. Injecting substances may also result in cardiovascular conditions like collapsed veins and bacterial infection in the heart valves or blood vessels. Substance use may also cause nausea, vomiting, and euphoric effects in the brain.
  • School: Substance use results in an impairment of cognitive development, which reduces academic performance. Studies show that heavy substance use leads to problems relating to memory and concentration. Both memory and concentration problems will lead to poor performance in secondary school, which increases the risk of dropping out.8
  • Career: In a young adult’s career, substance use causes a reduction in the overall quality of work. Lack of sleep due to substance use affects productivity and work performance, which reduces work quality. Drugs can have negative effects on a person’s sleep cycle, which makes it impossible for the body to achieve the appropriate REM (Rapid Eye Movement).
  • Financial: Constant use of drugs may eat into an adolescent’s finances. Drugs cost money, so spending significant income on them is inevitable. Substance use also affects adolescents’ finances due to the neglect of responsibilities. Examples include mismanagement of a position in a specific company.   

Video: Teen Brain Development

00:00 (light music) 00:03 [Mila speaking] As teens, people are always telling us what we can’t do. 00:07 Do you ever wonder why that is? 00:09 Why can’t I stay up late? 00:10 What could happen if I just played for 15 more minutes? 00:12 Who cares if I smoke a joint every now and then? 00:15 Let’s face it, adults may mean well, but they can’t really 00:18 explain why they won’t let us do this stuff. 00:21 The thing is, there’s actually a really cool explanation, 00:24 and it has to do with our brains. 00:25 From the outside, the brain of a newborn 00:27 looks just like a smaller version of an adult brain, 00:31 but there’s a big difference. 00:32 There’s a ton of stuff that still needs 00:34 to be programmed into a young person’s brain. 00:37 That’s where our life experiences come in. 00:39 How we interact with what’s around us 00:41 shapes our brains until we’re in our mid 20s. 00:44 We can’t feel our brains changing, 00:45 but they are super busy building circuits and programming. 00:50 So how does this happen? 00:51 Every little thing that happens to us 00:53 can change our brain in huge ways. 00:55 At short distances, our experiences can make or break 00:59 connections between brain cells. 01:01 By guiding the creation of circuits, 01:02 experiences shape our perceptions, 01:05 memories, and everything that makes us unique. 01:07 But they also affect our brain across longer distances. 01:10 This involves the construction of thick bundles of fibers 01:14 that connect different brain regions. 01:16 By creating this complex network, 01:18 experiences help increase the brain’s bandwidth, 01:21 allowing it to work better and better. 01:24 We’ve gotta keep in mind, these short and long range 01:27 connections are influenced by everything we do 01:30 and everything that happens to us. 01:32 But this is awesome news. 01:34 It means we are the programmers of our brains. 01:37 Every decision, good or bad, 01:39 influences how our brain develops. 01:42 Let’s talk about taking drugs. 01:43 For example, pretend this is the keyboard 01:46 you are using to program your brain. 01:47 Using drugs just for fun or to get high 01:50 would be like scrambling the letters on the keyboard. 01:53 Now, if you scrambled the letters on the keyboard 01:56 after the program is written, 01:57 that can lead to temporary errors 01:59 or make it hard for the program to run for awhile. 02:02 But if you scramble the letters 02:04 while the program is being written, 02:06 the program can incorporate 02:08 catastrophic long lasting glitches. 02:10 This is why teens are better off without drugs. 02:13 We are in the middle of coding our brains 02:15 and drugs can cause real problems that can last a long time. 02:20 And yet, drugs are just one of 02:22 the many possible ways of scrambling our keyboards. 02:25 For example, not enough sleep, lack of exercise, 02:29 or eating too much junk food 02:30 can also harm our brain programs. 02:33 Yeah, I get it, it’s annoying 02:34 to be told what we can and can’t do. 02:37 But I would rather focus on my ability 02:39 to shape my brain through smarter decisions. 02:42 It turns out, we have far more control than we thought. 02:45 We can use this information to choose our own paths 02:48 and give ourselves the best possible futures.

How to Handle Your Child’s Drug Use

Discovering your child uses substances may be disheartening, but it’s imperative to take the appropriate steps. Confronting the issue of your child’s use requires an understanding of the situation. It’s advisable to plan out discussion points to better tackle the issue.

As a parent or guardian, it’s your responsibility to understand the structure of the brain and the way it develops. Note that the brain does not fully develop until the mid-20s, meaning that consistent substance use can cause significant damages to the brain cells in the long term.

Here are the advisable strategies to handle your child’s substance use:

  • Educate Yourself: There is a lot to learn about substance use and how it affects your child. You should consider learning more about the type of drug your child uses. Common examples of substances include heroin, methamphetamines, anabolic steroids, and marijuana. According to certain studies, marijuana use can lead to functional impairment in cognitive abilities. It’s imperative to note that the degree and duration of the physical impairment are dependent on the age of the adolescent and the period of use.9
  • Talk to Your Child: When you discover that your child is using, it’s imperative to speak to him or her calmly. Try understanding the reason behind substance use to provide help. It is advisable to set clear limits about the behavior and combine positive reinforcement with the right consequences. If your child is using substances like an opioid, ensure that you speak about the consequences of the drug. Note that opioid is a substance with painful withdrawal symptoms that may last for five to six days. Talking to your child about the consequences of the substances may be helpful.

After educating yourself and talking to your child, you may need to reach out to a licensed mental health professional for help.   

Preventing Drug Use in Young Adults

Preventing substance use in teenagers requires a direct and intentional approach from parents and schools. It is essential to act early because drugs affect brain chemistry, which may lead to addiction and other severe medical conditions.

Here are some of the steps that parents and schools can take for preventing substance use in teens: 

For Parents

As a parent, preventing substance use in your young adult or adolescent children is essential. You need to have an effective and intelligent conversation with your child for beneficial results.

  • Ask for your child’s views: The purpose of asking for your teen’s views is to discover his or her mind about the subject. Ensure that your child is honest about their opinion.
  • Speak about the reasons to avoid substance use: Avoid scaring your teenager, but you should speak about the consequences and dangers of substance use.
  • Use media messages: Pictures, television programs, movies, songs, and social media are good methods for passing information. Use these techniques to show your teen the consequences and reasons why substance use is inadvisable.
  • Talk about methods to resist peer pressure: Your child may face peer pressure often. For this reason, it’s essential to brainstorm with him or her on ways to turn down offers of substances.
Endeavor to discuss your substance use and experience as a parent. If you decided not to use drugs, discuss with your child the reasons for that decision. Be open enough for your adolescent to understand the reasons to avoid substance use.

For Schools

A secondary school or post-secondary school can also play an essential role in preventing substance use in young adults. Here are some steps that may help in stopping substance use in teenagers:

  • Know the activities of children in secondary school
  • Establish rules, regulations, and consequences
  • Monitor the activities of teenagers
  • Provide a support system for students in secondary or post-secondary school
  • Create enlightenment programs for children
Overall, effective education in a secondary school or any other academic environment is the most important aspect for preventing substance use in teenagers. An educational knowledge of substances’ negative effects may help curb the use.

How Virtual Schools Affect Drug Use

A virtual school is an online school that educates students outside of a conventional school. Due to the restrictions that a virtual school has, monitoring students is challenging. For this reason, parents may need to perform a significant level of monitoring to prevent substance use.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, learning in a virtual school may present a higher risk of child and parental mental and emotional health conditions. Note that a virtual school is typically a post-secondary school.10

Video: Talking to Teens about Drugs: Found in Reverse Translation?

00:06 as a parent 00:07 and a neuroscientist i often find myself 00:10 applying things that i learned from one 00:12 aspect of my life 00:14 into the other this has especially been 00:16 true 00:17 in the last few months of working from 00:19 home when i often found myself doing 00:21 both 00:22 at the same time as the dad 00:25 of a four going on 14 year old one word 00:28 that has lost 00:29 almost all meaning in our household is 00:31 no 00:32 it doesn’t matter who’s saying it how 00:35 many times it’s said 00:36 or the tone it’s set in the results are 00:39 often the same 00:40 complete indifference this four-year-old 00:44 who is loves scary dinosaurs 00:47 there isn’t really anything we can do in 00:50 terms of adding fear 00:51 to make him change his behaviors so what 00:54 does that have to do 00:55 with our topic today well for the last 00:58 30 to 40 years most of our campaigns 01:01 around 01:02 reducing substance use in adolescents 01:05 have taken the same approach 01:07 starting from nancy reagan’s just say no 01:10 campaign 01:10 to the reefer madness era and then even 01:13 more recently 01:14 trying to show graphic images of the 01:17 potential effects of substance use 01:20 even three days ago we have this 01:22 revision 01:23 of the justin nail campaign by the 01:26 current first lady 01:27 in the u.s and just like saying no to 01:30 the four-year-old 01:32 these approaches have largely not worked 01:35 in producing behavioral change so what 01:38 does work for that we turn to another 01:41 lesson 01:41 in my parenting adventures with two boys 01:44 under the age of eight 01:46 in our household the most commonly used 01:49 word 01:49 is why this can be heard 01:52 when we ask them to do something between 01:55 the two of them 01:57 in the form of why are you staring at me 02:00 why are you touching my things 02:02 and in the last few months between my 02:04 spouse and i in the form of why did we 02:06 do this to ourselves 02:08 the why question is important for the 02:11 adolescents 02:12 who are now becoming emerging adults and 02:15 are trying to make their decisions 02:17 about their substance use as well as for 02:21 researchers like myself to help 02:23 understand 02:24 why or why not adolescents should 02:27 or should not use drugs and it’s through 02:31 campaigns 02:32 that take the evidence from the research 02:35 and then translated to messaging for 02:38 these adolescents 02:40 combined with equipping them with better 02:42 social skills 02:43 that we have actually been able to bring 02:46 down the rates of substance use 02:48 in adolescents here is the data from 02:51 ontario 02:51 where we see consistent declines in the 02:54 use of tobacco 02:55 and alcohol in the adolescent or the 02:58 high school going population 03:01 the results for cannabis are similar but 03:04 we see 03:04 recent flutter possibly due to 03:06 localization and so we will see what 03:08 happens in the coming years 03:10 these data are largely consistent with 03:12 data from the us as well 03:13 where we see consistent declines in the 03:16 rates 03:17 of alcohol and tobacco use in high 03:20 school students 03:22 but not is all not all is heading in 03:24 this direction 03:25 the rates of e-cigarette use or vaping 03:29 as it’s called are actually increasing 03:32 and so here we see in the last year in 03:35 ontario 03:36 almost a doubling of the rates of 03:38 e-cigarette use 03:39 in adolescents in fact before the covid 03:43 epidemic or pandemic 03:44 what we were hearing on the media was 03:47 about the vaping 03:48 epidemic these rates can also be seen in 03:52 the u.s 03:53 with the single two largest increases 03:56 in recent history observed in the vaping 04:00 of nicotine 04:01 or thc which is the primary constituent 04:04 of the cannabis plant 04:06 or the psychoactive constituent of the 04:08 cannabis plant 04:10 why have there been increases in vaping 04:13 we don’t exactly know 04:15 but some reasons might be either related 04:17 to the perceived 04:18 lack of harm with these e-cigarettes and 04:21 while that is very 04:23 true for smokers who now quit their 04:26 combustible tobacco and move to these 04:28 electronic nicotine devices 04:31 it’s not necessarily true for 04:33 adolescents that were never smokers to 04:35 begin with 04:36 and as far for being safer than 04:39 cigarettes goes 04:40 that’s not exactly a high bar 04:44 so it’s important for us to figure out 04:46 why else 04:47 have these caught on so prevalently 04:50 in this population one reason might be 04:53 the use of 04:55 influencer social media influencer based 04:57 marketing 04:59 or some misinformation that might exist 05:02 about the contents 05:03 of these e-cigarettes i remember giving 05:06 a talk now three years ago 05:08 at a sorority at dartmouth college where 05:10 i did my postdoc 05:12 and while the talk was about alcohol and 05:14 cannabis use 05:15 all of the questions that i got after 05:17 the talk were about 05:18 jeweling at that time i didn’t even know 05:21 what dueling was 05:23 and so when i asked them what is dueling 05:25 they told me 05:26 these are these flavor pods that you can 05:28 use and vaporize just like e-cigarettes 05:31 that don’t have any nicotine in them 05:34 unfortunately 05:35 that couldn’t be further from the truth 05:37 in fact some of these pod devices 05:39 have more nicotine than the earlier 05:42 e-cigarette devices 05:43 and that’s when i realized that we had a 05:46 need 05:47 for greater information and 05:49 dissemination of that information 05:51 as well as more research related to why 05:54 do adolescents find these 05:57 the use of these e-cigarettes so 06:00 rewarding and appealing 06:02 since e-cigarettes and especially use 06:05 during adolescence 06:06 is relatively recent we don’t have a lot 06:09 of data 06:10 around the long term effects of this use 06:13 during adolescence what we do know so 06:16 far 06:17 is that adolescents who use e-cigarettes 06:19 are more likely to use other drugs 06:21 like alcohol or opiates in addition to 06:24 that they are more likely 06:25 to go on to develop cannabis use or 06:29 combustible tobacco use and lastly 06:32 these individuals are more likely to 06:34 have adhd 06:36 ptsd gambling disorder and 06:39 anxiety and those domains or these 06:43 effects are largely consistent 06:45 with what we know about the effects of 06:48 substance use 06:49 on the adolescent brain previous studies 06:52 have shown 06:53 that the risk of substance use during 06:55 adolescence 06:56 usually manifests itself in a change in 06:59 the risk trajectory 07:00 and results in three domains 07:04 cognitive deficits the risk for 07:06 substance use 07:07 which we know that the earlier you start 07:09 using substances 07:10 the more your risk of substance use 07:13 disorders later on in life 07:15 and then lastly the risk for mental 07:17 illness 07:18 the problem with these studies is that 07:20 they’re association studies 07:22 where we don’t know whether the 07:24 substance use actually 07:25 causally contributes to the development 07:28 of these three domains 07:30 it’s a chicken or egg question that 07:33 science struggles with 07:34 and we including our own lab are trying 07:37 to answer this question 07:39 one example of this might be the 07:41 relationship between adolescent cannabis 07:43 use 07:43 and schizophrenia while adolescent 07:46 cannabis use especially 07:47 early on and of higher potency cannabis 07:51 is considered a risk factor for the 07:53 development of schizophrenia 07:55 the high rates of cannabis use in 07:57 patients with schizophrenia 07:59 make it difficult to assess whether it 08:01 was the schizophrenia or the risk for it 08:03 that gave rise to the cannabis use or 08:06 whether it was the cannabis use 08:07 that gave rise to the schizophrenia the 08:10 same 08:11 might be true for e-cigarettes as well 08:13 maybe the individuals 08:14 that were going to go on to develop the 08:17 cannabis use disorder 08:18 or combustible tobacco use were the same 08:21 people that ended up using 08:23 e-cigarettes and it was a third factor 08:25 that was either related to their 08:27 genetics 08:27 or environment that gave rise to both 08:30 things 08:31 and that is where pre-clinical 08:34 animal-based 08:35 studies come in they help us answer 08:38 what the causal influence of adolescent 08:42 substance use 08:43 on the brain is and what the changes 08:46 that happen as a result of it 08:48 and at the same time control for those 08:50 confounding factors 08:52 that might come from genetic or 08:54 environmental influence 08:57 and i am not by any means the first 08:59 person to think of doing these studies 09:01 in animals to get at the causal basis 09:03 in fact we stand on the shoulders of 09:05 giants giants like linda spear 09:08 and others who have laid the groundwork 09:10 and set up 09:11 a solid foundation for us to stand on 09:15 they have established what age 09:18 in rodents is equivalent to that age 09:21 in humans they have established what 09:24 changes happen in the brain 09:26 in adolescents in animals and whether 09:29 those are in fact consistent with the 09:30 changes 09:31 observed in the humans because of these 09:34 changes were not consistent 09:35 these studies wouldn’t be of much value 09:38 and then lastly they have helped 09:40 establish what 09:42 is happening at the level of the 09:45 neurochemicals within the brain 09:47 these chemicals that are responsible for 09:49 all communication within the brain 09:51 is there something happening during 09:53 adolescence and have shown 09:55 that adolescence is a period of 09:57 considerable flux 09:58 this figure that you see behind me is 10:00 meant to be small for a reason 10:02 and difficult to see the point that 10:04 you’re supposed to take from here 10:06 is that across all the different 10:09 chemical messengers within the brain 10:11 during adolescence there is some flux 10:14 in those systems either they’re going up 10:17 or going down 10:18 or doing both at the same time and so 10:21 when substances are used during this 10:24 period 10:25 they interact with these fluctuations to 10:27 possibly produce 10:29 long-term changes and for those of us 10:31 that are dealing with either teenagers 10:33 at home 10:34 or are young enough to remember being a 10:35 teenager this figure probably also 10:37 explains a lot 10:39 and so today since the topic of the day 10:43 is intended to innovate i wanted to 10:45 highlight some ways 10:47 in which our group and others are 10:49 bringing innovation to this topic 10:52 while most of the previous studies that 10:54 test the effects of drugs 10:56 on the adolescent brain in animals have 10:59 used injected models of delivery 11:01 that’s not exactly how the humans use 11:04 the drugs 11:05 and so we have been working towards 11:08 establishing 11:09 routes of delivery that are more similar 11:12 to the used 11:13 those used in adolescence and so one way 11:16 we’ve done that is by creating 11:18 open source devices that allow us to 11:21 expose 11:21 animals to the vapor from those same 11:24 dual pods 11:25 that those students were asking me about 11:27 a few years ago 11:28 and we’ve made some important 11:29 discoveries with this along the way as 11:31 well 11:32 like a recent paper showing that 11:34 adolescents are in fact 11:37 more vulnerable because they find the 11:40 vapor 11:41 from those nicotine jewel devices more 11:44 rewarding 11:44 compared to adults we’re also 11:48 experimenting with other routes of 11:49 administration like edibles 11:51 not us but with the animals obviously 11:54 but in addition to that we 11:56 are now combining these with studies of 11:59 the brain circuitry to be able to get at 12:02 what are those causal changes in the 12:04 brain 12:04 that happen as a result of adolescent 12:07 substance use 12:08 and for that we use magnetic resonance 12:11 imaging based 12:12 studies of the brain which are akin to 12:15 those done in humans 12:16 and through this we can identify exactly 12:19 the changes that happen 12:20 in those humans that could be 12:22 contributed directly 12:24 to the substance use during adolescence 12:26 with the hope of identifying 12:28 those inflection points in those risk 12:31 trajectories that i was talking about 12:32 earlier 12:34 and someday through manipulating these 12:36 circuits 12:37 maybe reverse or prevent the effects 12:41 of adolescent exposure to substances 12:46 in the end i’ll come back to where i 12:48 started as i pic 12:49 as a parent i will continue to have 12:53 the frank discussions of the why of 12:55 substance use with my children 12:57 early and often and as a neuroscientist 13:00 i promise to continue giving talks like 13:02 this 13:02 to equip other parents with the why 13:06 so that they can have these important 13:08 conversations 13:09 with their kids 13:20 you

Addiction Treatment Focused on Young Adults

Various addiction treatment processes help teenagers recover from substance use. For better comprehension, here are the different addiction treatment techniques to follow:

  • Education and Vocational Support: Educating young adults about the effects of substance use may be efficient. The educational approach should include teaching resources and strategies. Proper planning of educational and vocational support programs is also helpful in addiction treatment.
  • Peer Support Network: Peer support involves giving and receiving nonclinical assistance from teens with the same experience. According to research, the benefits of a support network relate to treatment engagement, human immunodeficiency or hepatitis C virus risk behaviors, and secondary drug-related behaviors like craving.11
  • Sober Living Programs: Sober living programs are only suitable for adolescents transitioning from intensive addiction treatment to independent living without medical attention. A teen in a sober living home (SLH) typically practices autonomy, while the supervising staff or peers ensure that they are accountable.
  • Therapies: Mental health professionals use different therapies to treat substance use or addiction. The behavioral treatment includes multidimensional family therapy, motivational incentives, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Substance use in young adults or teenagers can appear as a serious problem to parents, friends, and colleagues. An appropriate approach to educating and treating substance use in these teenagers is essential. For this reason, it’s imperative to consult a mental health professional when you observe any signs of substance use.   


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