If there is anything stronger than the allure of cocaine to a teenager dabbling in drugs, it’s the danger which cocaine in particular poses to that teenager’s brain.
Two recent studies by Yale researchers present new evidence that the particular circuitry of the teenage brain makes teens more susceptible to cocaine addiction that previously believed. The studies show that vulnerability to cocaine addiction is much higher for adolescents than it is for adults because the adolescent’s brain is still shifting from an explosive and plastic growth phase to the more settled and refined neural connections characteristic of adults. When first exposed to cocaine, the adolescent brain launches a strong defensive reaction designed to minimize the drug’s effects, but once interfered with, the brain’s sensitivity to the drug dramatically increases, and with it the risk of drug abuse and addiction. The researchers also identified a gene that seems to regulate response to the drug, which may prove helpful in the search to cure addiction. Read the full article here.