Teen development

Understanding why many teens take risks with alcohol & other drugs

How can your teen be so bright, responsible and thoughtful one minute, and so reckless the next?

Before learning the facts and stats about alcohol and other drugs, it’s important to understand that there are biological reasons why teenagers don’t always make the best choices.  It’s one more reason why parental monitoring and guidance are so important.

Teen brains aren’t wired like adult brains.

Research done over the past several years using magnetic scanners has shown that while the teenage brain is wired to let young people acquire knowledge and skills more easily than adults, the parts that control impulses and planning aren’t yet fully developed. This helps to explain why teens are prone to reacting emotionally and impulsively and to taking risks.

Teenagers get a greater rush from using alcohol & other drugs.

The intoxicating effects of alcohol and other drugs seem to have a greater impact on the reward centres in teenage brains—giving teens more of a rush than adults would get, and making them more likely to take risks. Teens may also be less sensitive to some of the negative physical effects of drinking and using drugs, like hangovers – effects that might help them to keep their drinking in check, or to reconsider it all together.