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Teenage Drug Abuse: Brain Damage From Amphetamine Abuse

Posted Nov 30 2010 8:17pm

stimulants1 Teenage Drug Abuse: Brain Damage From Amphetamine Abuse It is very common for teens to to experiment with drugs and alcohol. Teenage alcoholism is often a gateway to teenage drug abuse. Do you ever wonder how your teen’s amphetamine  abuse is affecting his brain? Here is some recent data based on animal experiments that show amphetamine abuse permanently damages brain function:

Joshua Gulley, an Assistant Professor or Psychology at Illinois at Urbana- Champaign studied the effects of exposing the adolescent rat brain to large amounts of amphetamine and seeing the impact on the adult rat brain. He looked at what happened to the brain cells in the prefrontal cortex of these rats when they reached adulthood.

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for decision making, impulse control, and working memory. This part of the brain is underdeveloped in adolescents and explains their impulsiveness. He found that working memory was impaired in the adult rats he studied. It turned out to be a long-lasting effect.  There were abnormal responses to electrical stimulation and an insensitivity to a chemical in the brain called dopamine. The brain communicates with electrical and chemical signals. Therefore, these findings indicate that large doses of amphetamine cause brain damage.

Dr. Gulley hypothesizes that amphetamine abuse in adolescence disrupts normal brain development. This experiment has very important implications. One form of teenage drug abuse is Adderall abuse as well as abuse of other stimulants. Teens will take amphetamines (stimulants) such as Adderall for Attention Deficit Disorder which is safe at the doses prescribed.

However, some adolescents are guilty of Adderall abuse (some buy it form their friends). They take stimulants at much larger doses than prescribed. It is possible they are causing brain damage that persists into adulthood.

Take home message: Teenage drug abuse (and teenage alcoholism) can cause changes to the developing brain that may not be reversible. Amphetamines, marijuana, and alcohol (among other drugs) cause attention, learning, memory, and decision making problems. If your teen is using drugs and alcohol, educate them and take steps to reverse the problem.

If you want additional help with teenage alcoholism and teenage drug abuse, click here to register for my free report on, “How To Avoid The 5 Biggest Mistakes Parents Make With Their Addicted Teen Or Young Adult Child”. It may save your family’s life. It outlines the typical mistakes families make that actually perpetuate teenage substance abuse.


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