Your brain is just three pounds of white-and-grey matter that rests in your skull. It’s what allows you to move, speak, feel, think, and breathe. In other words, it is your operating system. So why would anyone want to compromise its functionality by overdosing on drugs and alcohol? More often than not, one class of humans is more vulnerable to nicotine – teenagers.
Prolonged substance abuse can dramatically affect the brain and set individuals up for addiction and other devastating problems. Once a teenager is addicted, their brain changes to never want to do anything other than use drugs or drink excessively. So there’s no sugar-coating the fact that drugs can not only stop your brain from maturing but also make you do horrible things. Hence, for a parent, delaying and preventing substance abuse during this time is so critical to their teen’s long-term health.
So if you’re an addicted teenager or a parent looking for some information, here’s a gist of the three main effects of substance abuse on the brain and why it is crucial to put an end to these bad habits.
Limiting emotional and behavioral responses
In other words, the limbic system is the brain’s reward center. The limbic system is responsible for our brain’s emotional and behavioral responses. It relates to the behaviors we need for survival, such as reproducing, caring, fight or flight responses, and feeding. It also affects our emotive responses to help us differentiate between optimistic emotions, like pleasure, and negative ones, like depression.
But unfortunately, the constant abuse of substances can change the way the limbic system works. Drugs and alcohol disrupt the careful modulation of emotions and motivations that inspire normal behavior. When these feelings lose touch with reality, the individual receives artificial pleasure, relief, and contentment. For a teenager, each one of these aspects contributes to development. Hence, long-term use of alcohol and drugs can cause a teenager to lose their sense of direction.
Curious parents need to pick up their axes and take matters into their own hands. One of the primary and effective ways to do that is by finding rehab facilitation. The Palm Beach Institute, located in Florida, offers commendable treatment for drug rehab and alcoholism. It is a safe space that encourages therapy for every level of addiction and will surely help nudge your teen in the right direction.
Another part of our brain, the cerebral cortex, helps us interpret and process information from various sources using the sense of smell, light, touch, taste, and sight. For example, suppose you accidentally touch a hot iron rod. In that case, the cerebral cortex will interpret this action as painful since you burned your hand. Similarly, touching something warm and soft can be construed as exemplary and inviting.
The frontal cortex is where all of our thought processes and thinking occurs. This part of the brain helps us understand, solve problems, make decisions and determine the rewards and risks of our actions and behaviors.
This entire structure goes to waste when drugs and alcohol interfere. They affect the way neurons receive, send, and process signals. This form of disruption results in abnormalities in teenagers, such as a shrunken brain region. It can further cause decreased hearing, impaired smelling, tasting, and blurred vision.
For a teenager, the constant abuse of substances can disrupt the functioning of the brain stem. It can further influence the body’s autonomic responses, such as keeping our hearts beating, breathing, and so on. It also serves as a path between the other parts of the body and brain by relaying information and signals to/from the brain through the nervous system.
And since teenagers are always in the “developmental mode,” excessive drinking and drugging can dismantle the brain stem. This interference pretty much explains why overdoses can cause depression and even death.
Why Is It Important To Quit
Maybe it feels like drugs and alcohol are helping you get by in life right now. Perhaps, as young adults, we are afraid to make big decisions that come along with recovery. So why should teenagers drop alcohol and drugs? Here’s why:
Your immediate survival is the primary reason to quit abusing drugs and alcohol. Your life depends on you. Without you, there will be no life.
Drugs and alcohol give birth to various mental health issues. So if you want to learn how to maintain this route, quit abusing substances and maintain your sobriety.
Your family, relationships, and other trusted bonds can suffer because of your unyielding desire to abuse substances. The person you care about and those closest to you will only want you to be healthy. Quitting drugs and give you a chance to reconnect with your family.
Lastly, knowing the consequences of drugs and alcohol at a very young age can save you from financial troubles.
Conclusion So you see, the effects of drugs and alcohol on the old noodle are harrowing. And because teenagers have a hyper-active impulse to seek pleasure without considering the consequences, they are bound to fall prey in the face of drugs and alcohol. What’s worse, the effects of drugs on the brain of teenagers may be everlasting if left untreated. Therefore, parents need to intervene – even if the substance abuse is recreational, with moderate or mild use. There are various treatment options available for those who are committed to change – it’s only a matter of admitting