Tag Archives: teenagers

Addiction Linked to Weak Working Memory

addiction

Addiction and poor impulse control. Well, it is fair to say that the two go hand in hand. Addicts and alcoholics can easily be typified by making rash decisions, that are rarely in one’s best interest. A major component of addiction recovery is reining in such destructive impulses that, in recovery, can surely lead to relapse. It isn't an easy task. True addiction develops over the course of years. During which time, people’s brains become wired to act and react to various things in certain ways. Breaking such patterns is hard work, requiring continued maintenance.

Those living in active addiction have a “go to” response for most things that come up. If they are stressed, they use. If they are happy, they use. Ad infinitum. But in most cases, the continued reliance on a substance for coping with all things Life, comes down to how your brain functions with regard to memory. Addicts and alcoholics often have short attention spans, and minds that easily forget where drugs take them. Sure, one may find relief in using a substance for a time. But such relief is always outweighed by the bad that comes with the use of a substance. Despite that fact, people continue to use regardless.

Naturally, we are all wired a little bit differently, sometimes a lot differently. Beginning at a young age, individuals process things in a subjective manner. Some young people excel at staying focused and on-task, while others struggle to keep their heading. There is compelling research indicating that those who struggle with impulse control and working memory, the capacity to focus on a task without being easily distracted, are at greater risk of substance use disorder later in life, according to a study conducted by researchers at three institutions. The findings of which, were published in the journal Addiction.

Risk of Addiction

More times than not, teenage substance use is a risk factor for a substance use disorder in adulthood. Early drug and alcohol initiation, while the brain is still developing, can wreak havoc on the course of one’s life. However, that is not always the case. The majority of teens who experiment with alcohol, tobacco and marijuana in high school, don’t progress to addiction later in life. For a significant minority, the future holds something altogether different.

It goes without saying there isn’t a test that will identify who will be touched by addiction. Sure, there are several factors that often play a part in the development of the disease (i.e. family history and upbringing), but they do not necessarily mean that the child will follow the same road as an addicted parent. While doctors cannot look at any one thing and say emphatically, ‘this teen will have problems later in life,’ identifying which adolescents have certain risk factors can help guide prevention methods that may mitigate the likelihood of addiction developing in the future.

Researchers looked 387 study participants (ages 18-20) who were recruited as 10- to 12-year-olds in 2004 for a long-term study, a University of Oregon news release reports. Baselines for the participants working memory and impulsive tendencies were defined at the beginning of the study. Teens with weak working memories and poor impulse control were at a greater risk of experimenting with substances at a young age, and having a substance use disorder later in life.

We found that there is some effect that was carried through the early progression in drug use. It is a risk factor," said Khurana, who also is a research scientist in the UO's Prevention Science Institute. "But we also found that the underlying weakness in working memory and impulse control continues to pose a risk for later substance-use disorders."

Predicting Addiction Later In Life

In middle schools and high schools across the country, substance use prevention efforts employ a total abstinence methodology. The idea being that if teens don’t ever use drugs and alcohol, they will be less likely to have a problem later in life. While that may be true in some cases, it is an idea that isn’t based in reality for the simple fact that young people will often do that which they are told not to do. As was mentioned earlier, most of the young people who experiment will not have a problem later in life. With that in mind, it would seem that prevention and intervention methods that work to improve certain behavioral deficits, could help many young people in the future.

Drug prevention strategy in the schools typically focuses on middle school when early drug use tends to take place and assumes that any drug use at all is a problem,” said Co-author Dan Romer, research director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “This study suggests that prevention needs to be more nuanced. The risk depends on whether drug use is likely to progress.”

If impulse control and one’s ability to stay focused is strengthened, teenagers and young adults would benefit greatly with regard to the relationship they develop with mind-altering substances.

Working with Young Adult Males

Through intensive, one-on-one addiction psychotherapy, under the care of licensed Master Level Therapists, PACE Recovery Center clients learn about and become aware of their experiences with addiction and behavioral health issues. They begin to identify personal core beliefs associated with negative sense of self, which exacerbates self defeating behaviors such as depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol use. Clients begin to challenge these self-destructive beliefs and ultimately restructure them into a healthier and more adaptive way of living free from mood altering substances. Each client's treatment plan is closely monitored, modified when necessary and evaluated by their therapist and the clinical treatment team.

Talking About Alcohol Use Disorder

alcohol use disorderWith all the talk about prescription opioid and heroin addiction devastating communities across the country, it is important that we do not lose sight of the other substances which have the power to negatively affect one’s life. We’ve written before how alcohol continues to be, and will probably always be, the most commonly used drug here in the United States and around the world. In America, alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death, and every year approximately 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Educating young adults about the dangers that can accompany alcohol use, especially regarding the dangerous practice of “binge drinking,” can save lives. Four out of five college students report drinking alcohol and half of those who drink - binge drink. The NIAAA considers binge drinking as having 5 alcoholic beverages for men and 4 for women within a two hour period. The dangerous practice is associated with a number of serious health problems, including:
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Unintentional Injuries
  • Liver Disease
  • Neurological Damage
It is probably fair to say that many young adults who binge drink, developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol in high school. While heavy drinking is more commonly associated with college life, it occurs among high school age teens as well. Left unchecked it can result in an alcohol use disorder developing, an addiction that can dramatically affect the course of one’s life. It is ever vital that we have effective prevention and intervention efforts, and that health experts do everything in their power to provide teenagers and young adults with scientifically current information about the dangers of alcohol use. Naturally, parents can play a huge role in preventing their teens and young adult children from forming unhealthy relationships with alcohol. It cannot be overly stressed how paramount it is that parents talk with their children about alcohol, which is why the theme of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Month is: “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use.” Every year in April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) sponsors Alcohol Awareness month, with the aim of raising “public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.” The leading advocacy organization in the world addressing alcoholism and drug dependence cites research that found that adolescents who have regular discourse with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and drug use are 50% less likely to use. Young people who drink alcohol are at great risk of:
  • Addiction
  • Alcohol Poisoning
  • Traffic Fatalities
  • Violence
  • Suicide
  • Unsafe Sex
  • Educational Failure
“Alcohol and drug use is a very risky business for young people,” says Andrew Pucher, President and Chief Executive Officer of NCADD, “and parents can make a difference. The longer children delay drinking and drug use, the less likely they are to develop any problems associated with it. That’s why it is so important to help your child make smart decisions about alcohol and drugs.” Nevertheless, there are many young adults who are already struggling with an alcohol use disorder and it is vital that they receive help sooner, rather than later. If you or a loved one’s alcohol use has become problematic, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in treating young adults with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues.

The Use of Marijuana Has Doubled

marijuanaAs the country becomes more accepting of marijuana use, with states voting in favor of medical marijuana and recreational use, it stands to reason that more people are using the drug. Historically, research involving marijuana was limited; however, in recent years there have been a number of studies conducted on the drug. The latest study involving marijuana has found that marijuana use has doubled since 2001, with nearly 10 percent of American adults reporting use in 2013, the Oregonian reports. With the increase of use, dependence and addiction follows in its wake.
“While many in the United States think prohibition of recreational marijuana should be ended, this study and others suggest caution and the need for public education about the potential harms in marijuana use, including the risk for addiction,” the report stated.
The research showed that the percentage of people reporting marijuana dependence or abuse doubled. In 2001, only 1.5 percent reported marijuana addiction, compared to nearly 3 percent in 2013, according to the article. Researchers found that 3 out of every 10 people (nearly 7 million Americans) have a marijuana abuse or addiction problem. In the U.S., 23 states have adopted medical marijuana programs and four states have passed recreational use laws. More states are expected to follow suit, and people's perception of the drug is likely to become more relaxed. However, it is important that teenage exposure to marijuana is limited; studies show that the drug can have an impact on developing brains, the article reports. The report highlights potential problems that can arise from marijuana use, including:
  • Addiction
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Injuries
  • Psychiatric Symptoms
  • Psychosocial Impairments
  • Poor Quality of Life
  • Use of Other Drugs
  • Vehicle Crashes
The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you are or a loved one is abusing marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Brief Interventions Reduce Underage Drinking

underage-drinkingTeenagers and young adults are often times unaware of the consequences that can arise from risky alcohol consumption. Underage drinking occurs regularly at high schools and colleges throughout the country; health officials are always on the look for new and innovative ways to combat the problem. Past research has shown that emergency rooms are perhaps the most effective place to reach people about drug and alcohol use. A new study has found that administering a brief intervention to underage drinkers during an ER visit could result in a decrease in their alcohol consumption and problems related to drinking in the coming year, ScienceDaily reports. Researchers from University of Michigan Injury Center conducted a five-year trial which was funded by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. The goal of the study was to examine how effective emergency room interventions were at curbing future alcohol use and the injuries often associated with underage drinking, according to an article. Common alcohol related problems include:
  • Alcohol Related Injuries
  • DUI
  • Drug Use
  • Psychosocial Problems
The alcohol intervention was administered by a therapist or by a computer program. The researchers screened 4,389 patients, of which 24 percent reported risky drinking behaviors, the article reports. Either form of intervention was found to reduce underage drinking and the associated consequences.
"The study highlights that a single-session intervention in the emergency department can play a role in decreasing underage drinking among youth," says Rebecca Cunningham, M.D., director of the U-M Injury Center and U-M professor of emergency medicine and public health. "Emergency department staff is focused on urgent medical care. The finding that the computer program brief intervention helped youth reduce risky drinking is very promising, especially as an approach that is easy for health care sites to use without requiring dedicated staff time to administer."
The findings were published in Pediatrics. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one is living with alcohol use disorder, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Teenage Marijuana Use On The Rise

teenage-marijuana-useIn the United States, preventing the use of mind altering substances among teenagers is a top priority for public health officials and lawmakers. The use of drugs and alcohol can have a dramatic impact on developing minds, and can lead to addiction. In recent years there has been a lot of concern about the changing mood regarding marijuana, and the message that new laws might send to America’s youth. While research on medical marijuana programs and legalization laws is limited as to its impact on adolescents, new research suggests that teenage marijuana use is on the rise, HealthDay reports. Although, teenage cigarette and alcohol use is declining. Researchers at Penn State analyzed data from a survey of almost 600,000 high school seniors. Before 2011, teenage American whites were more likely to smoke cigarettes than marijuana, according to the article. In 2013, the analysis showed that nearly 25 percent of black teens used marijuana, and nearly 10 percent smoked cigarettes. In the same year almost 22 percent of white teens used marijuana, and about 19 percent smoked cigarettes.
Our analysis shows that public health campaigns are working — fewer teens are smoking cigarettes,” said lead researcher, Stephanie Lanza, in a news release. “However, we were surprised to find the very clear message that kids are choosing marijuana over cigarettes.”
When it came to teenage alcohol use, the researchers found that teenage alcohol use has been on the decline since the mid-1970s; however, white teens still used alcohol more than any other substance, the article reports. Over the course of the study, white teenagers used alcohol more than black teenagers. The indication of declining alcohol and cigarette use rates is promising. However, it is important to keep in mind that past research has shown that the use of marijuana can have an adverse effect on developing brains. The rise in teenage marijuana use should be of concern. The findings are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. ___________________________________________________________________________ If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol or marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

Binge Drinking Has Lasting Effects

addictionThe effort to understand the effects drug and alcohol use has on the brain during developmental years continues. When teenage drinking is talked about, the words “binge drinking” often arise, that is, consuming five or more alcoholic beverages (male), or four or more drinks (female), over a 2-hour period. The practice is quite common among teenagers who are trying to consume as much alcohol as they can - in the limited time they have. Binge drinking has been associated with a number of health problems, including alcohol poisonings and the potential for addictive behaviors to develop. New research suggests that teens that binge drink may experience changes in the brain that last into adulthood, The Los Angeles Times reports. Researchers found that repeated exposure to alcohol throughout one’s formative years may cause long-lasting changes in the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning. “In the eyes of the law, once people reach the age of 18, they are considered adult, but the brain continues to mature and refine all the way into the mid-20s,” lead author Mary-Louise Risher of Duke University said in a news release. “It’s important for young people to know that when they drink heavily during this period of development, there could be changes occurring that have a lasting impact on memory and other cognitive functions.” The brains of teenagers and young adults are still developing, according to researchers, and are uniquely sensitive to levels of alcohol consistent with binge drinking, the article reports. Using rats, the researchers found that those who regularly consumed alcohol while their brain was developing had problems with:
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Judgment
  • Learning Ability
"It's quite possible that alcohol disrupts the maturation process, which can affect these cognitive function later on," said Risher. The findings appear in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

AAP Against Random Drug Testing in Schools

random-drug-testAll would agree the need to prevent substance abuse among teenagers and young adults is of great importance. At every school in the United States, emphasizing to kids the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and identifying those abusing substances is a top concern. Some schools even implement random drug tests to deter and catch those using drugs. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released an update policy statement recommending against “suspicionless” drug testing at schools, Reuters reports. The AAP suggests that there is little evidence to support the efficacy of random drug testing practices at public schools. The new policy statement’s lead author, Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the adolescent substance abuse program at Boston Children’s Hospital, says that there is little evidence that random drug testing identifies kids who use drugs and helps them receive treatment, according to the article. “Evidence on either side is very limited,” said Levy. “It’s possible that you do get some prevention out of these programs, but on the other hand it seems very expensive, very invasive, and has pretty limited results,” added Levy. Levy points out that because teen drug use is usually sporadic, many teen drug users could pass an annual drug test, only to go on and use drugs for the rest of the year. Those who do fail a drug test are more likely to receive punishment, rather than substance use disorder treatment services. “Pediatricians support the development of effective substance abuse services in schools, along with appropriate referral policies in place for adolescents struggling with substance abuse disorders,” the AAP wrote. The AAP noted that the negative consequences associated with random drug testing include:
  • Eroding of the student-school relationship.
  • The potential for confidentiality breaches
  • Mistaken interpretations of drug tests, resulting in false-positives.
The AAP’s recommendation can be found in the journal Pediatrics.

Educating Teenagers About Prescription Drugs

prescription-drugsEducating teenagers and young adults as to the dangers of drug use has long been of the utmost importance. While such programs have put up a good fight, the reality is that the young are still losing their lives to overdoses which we all would like to see avoided. The prescription drug epidemic has touched all corners of America, putting high school teenagers at risk and opening the doors to other opioids like heroin. Rather than focus on drug use in general, new programs in Illinois and Pennsylvania designed for middle school and high school students, have set their sights on prescription drug use, Reuters reports. The developers of Narcotics Overdose Prevention and Education (NOPE), say it is more effective to zero-in on prescription opioids, rather than emphasizing a more generalized anti-drug approach. Prescription drugs are fast becoming the drug of choice amongst teenagers. Another new program, Heroin Prevention Education program uses interactive software centered around the life of a recovering teen heroin addict who began abusing opioid painkillers after having his wisdom teeth pulled, according to the article. Like many before, the teen’s addiction to opioids brought him intravenous heroin use. The article points out that these new programs face challenges due to lack of funding. In 2011, funding was cut according to the former Office of the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities. "The whole field is sort of in withdrawal," said William Hansen, who runs All Stars, a school drug-prevention provider out of Greensboro, North Carolina. He says that schools have been pouring more money into academic testing and pulling away from drug prevention. What’s more, there has been increased criticism of anti-drug programs in schools, citing program like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) - a program which has proven ineffective in deterring drug use amongst teens. However, the new programs argue that they have come up with more effective strategies. "Our program really is looking at adolescent brain development, addiction on a brain level," said Christopher Adzia, the program manager at the Robert Crown Center for Health Education.