Teenage brain development â€œcauses addiction vulnerability
In an analysis of more than 140 studies, the team from Yale School of Medicine has found that substance use disorders are related to neurodevelopmental conditions.
â€œSeveral lines of evidence suggest that socio-cultural aspects particular to adolescent life alone do not fully account for greater drug intake,â€ said lead author Dr Andrew Chambers in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The teamâ€™s review suggests that particular sets of brain circuits involved in the development of addictions are the same as those that rapidly undergo change during the teenage years.
â€œNormally these processes cause adolescents to be more driven than children or adults to have new experiences,â€ he said. â€œBut these conditions also reflect a less mature neurological system of inhibition, which leads to impulsive actions and risky behaviours, including experimentation and abuse of addictive drugs.â€
As a result of the study, Dr Chambers says addictions should be viewed as developmental disorders. And experts should focus on the adolescent years when considering the treatment and prevention of addictions.
He adds that it is essential to identify adolescents who are at a heightened vulnerability to substance abuse disorders.
This should take place along with the development of preventive strategies and â€œrefinementâ€ of pharmaceutical and psychosocial treatments in order to cut down the extent of substance abuse in modern society, he said.