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Addiction in Adolescence

  • Date Submitted: 02/29/2016 05:42 AM
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Addiction in Adolescence Essay
Christopher M. Pipes
Liberty University

Introduction
Adolescence is a significant time of transition from childhood to adulthood. It can be best described as “characteristic behaviors that include high levels of risk-taking, increased exploration, novelty and sensation seeking, social interaction, high activity, and play behaviors that likely promote the acquisition of skills necessary for maturation and independence” (Spear, 2000; Ernst, Romeo, & Andersen, 2009). It is during this transitional period where many adolescents experiment with drugs and alcohol and begin their journey down the road of substance abuse and addiction.
Substance abuse is a common problem today, especially among adolescents. Alcohol is the most abused substance in the world, and is extremely accepted and endorsed in a wide variety of media and advertisements (Greydanus, Feucht, & Hawver, 2012). Many adolescents have their first drink by twelve years of age and 80% of high school seniors continue to drink alcohol into their young adult years. “A person who begins drinking alcohol as a young teenager is four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than someone who waits until adulthood to use alcohol” (Greydanus, Feucht, & Hawver, 2012, p. 154).
Abuse and Addiction Affect the Developing Adolescent Brain
Drugs and alcohol addiction is higher among adolescents than any other age group. Drug use can even heighten the brain regions of an adolescent that involve control processes and motivation, which lead them to take greater risks. Studies have shown that adolescents who take risks may have an imbalance between the prefrontal cortical regions and sub cortical brain regions related to motivation and affect (Gladwin, Figner, Crone and Weirs, 2011). Alcohol affects the adolescent brain different than adults because they are less sensitive to the calming effects of alcohol, which allows them to binge drink, but they are more vulnerable...

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