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Substance Abuse Study Hopes to Aid Adolescents

Substance Abuse Study Drugs and Alcohol - the Bergand Group

Research into the effects of substance abuse is picking up speed. “The National Institute of Health is preparing to fund the largest study of adolescent brain development to date,” and the influence of drugs and alcohol on these young brains is the centerpiece of that substance abuse study. Their intention is to monitor the shifts in these adolescents “before and after” substance use and its results will undoubtedly help professionals better aid and support people of all ages who are suffering from addiction.

Hope for the Future: Substance Abuse Study

The idea behind this substance abuse study is “to follow 10,000 children ages 9-10 over the course of 10 years.” That is a huge number of people and a huge price tag to go along with the experiment. Still, the results could come with an incredible reward if it leads to new legal policies that stop younger people, whose brains are still developing, from being able to access drugs and alcohol which can then change their brain chemistry forever.

There’s no doubt that drugs and alcohol can have a huge impact on the brain, that they affect its growth and numerous other parts, but there are certainly other factors to take into place. In the case of these adolescents in the substance abuse study, it’s an issue of nature versus nurture. How much of the substances’ impact is chemical and how much of what their life develops into is a product of their outward environment? These are some of the questions that the NIH wants to be able to answer.

This is clearly a long process, one that won’t produce results of any kind until after a decade. The reason for such a huge endeavor is the addiction epidemic in the U.S. and the dire need to take some kind of action in order to try and learn more and combat it. Those behind the substance abuse study note that though there have been other experiments that observe developing brains before, none of them have been quite so extensive. They haven’t shown “how a teen’s brain changes over long periods of time.” Since this is a crucial piece of understanding when it comes to adolescents and to drugs and alcohol’s effects in general, it’s good, and likely overdue, that the NIH is doing this.

One of the key questions to note (again, returning to nature versus nurture within this study) is whether or not the substances themselves create particular abnormalities in the brain, if those differences were already there, or if they were always going to develop as a result of genetics and heredity.

“There are 40 million youth in America, ages 10-19, and an estimated 11% of those have a substance use problem.” That may not sound like an enormous percent, but taken as a number of people, it “means that about 4,400,000 teens are in need of substance use treatment.” That is a big number, and one that’s way too big. At a developmental age, one already fraught with stress and changes and difficulties, the sway of drugs and alcohol is a dangerous addition. Something has to be done to change these numbers. Though we unfortunately may be waiting quite a long time for these results, we at least know that action is underway to try and understand how to bring these young people back from the brink.

If you are concerned about a young person who may be struggling with addiction, get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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