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It’s true that the teenage years are full of changes and different emotions that can be hard for a child to deal with. Inexplicable behavior and moods may be very common among teenagers, but there’s a lot more going on than it appears. What’s happening in the teenage brain can increase their vulnerability to a variety of risky behaviors, including addiction, requiring drug and alcohol rehab.

Brain Development

The way in which the brain develops during early adolescence and a person’s mid-twenties is enough to cause vulnerability to addiction. This is because the back of the brain is the first to develop. This area houses the centers responsible for motivation, emotion, and physical activity.

However, the front of the brain, also known as the prefrontal cortex, doesn’t finish developing until the age of 25, and this is where vulnerabilities can exist because the prefrontal cortex is what controls impulses and reasoning. Because it’s been fully developed, the emotional and impulsive part of the brain has the most influence.

The Dopamine Shift

The brain of an adolescent is one that is experiencing a renovation. The brain is shifting from the state of a dependent child to one that has matured and is better prepared to leave home. Dopamine—also known as the “feel good” chemical—is secreted in higher amounts in teenagers than in adults.

Dopamine is released in the body when trying new things, making it ideal for an adolescent who’ll soon be on their own. However, it can also drive risky behavior like drug and alcohol misuse.

These substances cause an excessive amount of dopamine to be released, which the brain limits in order to protect the body. This can cause a higher tolerance for substances, ultimately requiring more of a drug to be ingested to achieve the same desired effect. When combined with a not-yet-developed prefrontal cortex, there is less of an ability to reason and consider the consequences of drug misuse.

Outside Influences

In addition to all of the things going on in a teenager’s brain, there may be other issues. A teen may have high stress related to their grades or may be experiencing a large amount of peer pressure to use drugs.

There can also be problems at home. Many teens have to navigate more than one, or all of the above influences, which can also make them more prone to using and becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. Once the brain itself becomes dependent on a substance, an addiction has developed.

Help for Adolescent Addiction

In order to overcome addiction, entering an addiction treatment center for college students will be necessary in most cases. Doing so can prevent many of the serious long-term effects of addiction. BriteLife Recovery is one of the country’s top addiction recovery centers. Our teen rehab program is available whether a residential, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient option is needed.

Our team of trained and experienced staff is compassionate and dedicated to your recovery. Learn more about our specialized rehab options by contacting us today: 888-224-7424.

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