It is reported that approximately 46% of teens in the United States are either using drugs on a regular basis, or have tried illegal drugs at least once, however as statistics show, this number has been slowly declining in the past couple years.
How is the brain affected by drugs?
The brain stem is responsible for digestion, breathing and circulating blood. The brain stem is also in charge of muscle movement and letting the brain know what is happening to the body. Use of drugs can affect this part of brain by slowing down rapid responses.
The limbic system controls our emotions, such as feeling pain or pleasure. The pleasure feeling is what motivates repetitive behavior, and although this part is good for telling us we need to eat, because it tastes good and it is critical to say alive, it also tells the brain the good feelings of drug use, which is how addiction can become.
Drug use can negatively impact our cerebral cortex. This part of the brain is divided into four parts and is responsible for senses such as, taste, sound, sight and feel.
What are the more common drugs among teens?
Besides alcohol, marijuana is the leading drug amongst teens. Studies show that approximately 39% of teens between 10th and 12th grade have used marijuana. Statistics also show that the use of marijuana was declining from 1990 to 1997. Inspite of excellent resources like Drug Test Your Teen, numbers have been on the rise again since 2007.
Besides alcohol and marijuana, the misuse of prescription drugs has become popular among teens. 2,000 teens on average in the United States have misused prescription drugs at one time or another. Many people tend to think that prescription drugs are safer than the use of heroin or cocaine. This is not true, painkillers affect the brain just as heroin would and stimulant types of prescription drugs affect the brain as would cocaine.
Illegal prescription drug among teen boys are reported as taken to get more of a ‘high’ feeling, while teen girls many times take illegal prescriptions to aid in weight loss. Prescription drugs are also easier for a teen to get possession of many times taking them from friends or relatives without their knowledge.
The newest drug and one of the most common in the late 2000’s are ‘bath salts’. Bath salts contain natural stimulants that heighten feelings of joy and pleasure, while some experience hallucinations and paranoia and some people act out violently.
Bath salts can be swallowed or inhaled, and the most dangerous when injected.
Bath salts appear to be highly addictive, giving the person an intense urge to use again and again, and like many synthetic drugs, after only a few uses, the person may experience severe withdrawl symptoms.
Bath salts are noted to be much cheaper on the market than amphetamines and cocaine, however, bath salts raise the dopamine level in the brain by at least ten times. Emergency room visits have been on the rise, many people experimenting with bath salts are admitted for racing heart, chest pains and raised blood pressure.
From Missouri, Cindi enjoys her career as a medical coder and writer. Follow this link to learn more about teen drug use.