Is your teen's brain pre-wired for addiction?

A huge study just released has found that some teens' brains may be pre-wired for addiction. The findings are pretty complicated for a non-scientist like me, but essentially they suggest that the brain networks linked to impulse control and drug addiction are not really working as well for some kids as they are for others. Of huge importance is that the study found that these differences exist even before a person is exposed to drugs or alcohol. 

This findings are incredibly useful because we it means we can potentially identify teens at risk before they give in--especially when considering that according to the National Institute of Health, 40 percent of high school seniors report drinking alcohol, 21 percent have used marihuana and 8 percent have used Vicodin unrelated to a medical condition.


I find the results of this study super interesting because they confirm what I've always thought: people don't get addicted to drugs or alcohol just because they're not strong enough. In fact, this study shows that some teens don't really have the ability to say no to drugs because the networks in their brains, which are supposed to control their impulses, don't really work like they do in others. 

Now, this doesn't mean that other things like environmental and social factors such as the kind of up-bringing they've had, peer-pressure, or stress don't play a role. But these findings should surely help us try to figure out how to identify those kids who have a higher risk of addiction. 

"None of these alone will make us addicts, but in aggregate, they can be overwhelming," says Dr. Paul Thompson, professor of neurology at UCLA.  

What do you think of the findings of this study?

Image via AdamCohn/flickr

Topics: teenagers