Author: Collaboration Council

How Teen Substance Use Alters Brain Chemistry (And Other Risks)

The teenage years are a crucial period of development in our lives where we start to make decisions that will shape our future.

During this time, teenagers go through a lot of changes and developments that affect them both physically and mentally. Substance use can severely alter the brain’s growth and development, causing lasting effects that could be permanent.

Let’s explore how teen substance use not only alters brain chemistry but exposes teens to a host of other potential risks.

Brain Chemistry and Development
From the onset of adolescence throughout the teenage years, young people experience many developmental changes. These changes include brain chemistry and development.

The chemistry and development of the brain can be severely affected by substance use. The brain responds differently based on the type of addiction, type of substance, and frequency of engagement.

The longer teens engage in substance use during their developmental years, the more the brain’s chemistry is affected. These effects can lead to physical symptoms as well as changes to the nervous system.

As a result, they may begin to act differently, becoming unrecognizable in both their behavior and development.

The Brain’s Susceptibility to Substance Use

During the growth and development process, the pleasure part of the brain develops earlier and faster than the decision-making part of the brain.

This means that the decisions we make are not based on risk analysis, but instead on the pleasures we want most.

Substance experimentation is at a high during the teenage years – when our brain is quite vulnerable. Social benefits and the influence of friends will have a higher impact on a teen’s decision-making process than what is best for their overall health and well-being.

If you know a young person engaging in substance use or who may be susceptible to substance use, contact us to learn more about the teen substance use education programs we offer for support.

The Effects of Substance Use

Substance use can cause both short-term and long-term effects on the developing brain, overall health, and physical development.

Some of the major developmental effects on the teenage brain include:

  • Memory loss or memory difficulties
  • Developing unhealthy behaviors and habits
  • Damaging and interference of proper brain functionality and development

Other negative impacts of substance use could include:

  • Damaging relationships with others
  • Criminal charges
  • Missed academic and/or job opportunities
  • Unplanned accidents or transmissible diseases
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Any of these consequences could have a direct negative effect on a teen’s present situation and impact their future.

Finding Solutions

The Know the Risks MC campaign provides information on youth substance use education. We are here to educate you on the short- and long-term consequence of substance use and to help you find the best path forward for you or a young person who may be using or misusing substances.

With a variety of educational resources and programs available, we can easily find the one best suited to your needs.  Contact Us today, we’re here to help.  All it takes is one call.


Our Partners:

Funding provided by the Montgomery County Collaboration Council and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services
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Montgomery County Collaboration Council
1803 Research Blvd., Suite 208,
Rockville, Maryland, 20850 

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