Teen Addiction: Nicotine and the Teenage Brain

The Role of Nicotine in Teen Addiction

 Nicotine and the Teenage Brain

Nicotine addiction, especially via vaping, is trending among teens. Vaping involves inhaling heated vapor through a portable device. Nicotine is highly addictive and a leading cause of teen addiction. The recent spike in popularity of “vaping mania,” as it’s been called, has medical professionals and public health advocates concerned.

At Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge, we understand teen addiction, and our mission is to provide a cost-effective solution for boys ages 12 to 17. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at nicotine and the effects it has on teen addiction and the developing brain.

The Developing Teen Brain

Like other drugs, such as marijuana and alcohol, nicotine has a different impact on the developing brain than on the brain of an adult. Particularly, the prefrontal cortex is at an increased risk in teens who use substances because it doesn’t finish developing until around age 25.

Brain imaging studies on adolescents suggest that those who begin using nicotine regularly at a young age have reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, and perform worse on tasks related to memory and attention. These brain changes are also linked to increased sensitivity to other drugs, as well as greater impulsivity, putting your teen at greater risk for developing other addictions.

Nicotine is Highly Addictive

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet ranked nicotine as more addictive than alcohol or barbiturates. Vaping and smoking are very difficult to quit, with statistics showing that roughly 85 percent of people who try to stop using nicotine on their own will relapse. Statistics also show that teens who vape nicotine are between two and seven times more likely to move on to cigarettes than those who never try vaping.

Frighteningly, stats also show that young vapors are also more likely to use marijuana and alcohol. A study in the journal BMC Public Health looked at the behaviors of more than 16,000 adolescents. The study found that teens who vaped were more likely to use alcohol. Another study in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence suggests that, among Latino adolescents, those who vape are more likely to use marijuana.

Educate Your Teen

Teen nicotine use is dangerous. It’s important to address the different areas of your teen’s life, such as peer pressure, that can cause him to start vaping or smoking. Talk over these issues with your teen, and keep them informed about the damage nicotine can cause and the dangers of addiction in general.

Addiction Help From Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge

If your son is struggling with teen addiction, you know too well that it is difficult to fight on your own. Mid-Atlantic Teen Challenge will provide the tools your son needs to overcome addiction and live a life not ruled by drugs or alcohol. If you have questions about how our faith-based program can help your son, contact us today.

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