Drug Addiction Starts During Teen Years

Drug Addiction Starts During Teen Years

Two new studies involving laboratory animals indicate that adolescence is a crucial time to develop drug addictions, because adults react differently to drugs than youngsters.

The first study was from Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois. Dr. Justin Rhodes and his colleagues found that adolescent mice were less sensitive to the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine than adults. The adults showed more increases in locomotion, but the drugs had little to no effect on the "teenagers." Dr. Rhodes was unsure why this occurred.

Dr. Rhodes said that a young person’s first experiment with cocaine and methamphetamines may be extremely mild, which in turn would increase the likelihood of his or her using drugs again.

"If you have a strong reaction to something, then you are less likely to do it again," Dr. Rhodes said.

This study appears in the journal Neuroscience.

The second study was from the University of Valencia. Dr. Jose Minarro found that mice given ecstasy and cocaine during adolescence developed a vulnerability to them in adulthood. The control group of mice that had not been exposed to drugs in adolescence had less vulnerability.

"Adolescence is a critical stage during which time drug consumption affects plastic cerebral processes in ways that cause changes that persist right through adulthood," according to Dr. Minarro in a report published in the journal Addiction Biology.

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