The Long-term Effects of Cocaine On the Adolescent Mind and Body

Cocaine is a very dangerous illegal stimulant found on the black markets throughout the United States. While all users suffer serious physical side effects from taking it, teens are the most prone to suffer from the long-term effects of crack. Because their minds and bodies aren’t fully developed, the drug has an even harsher effect on teenagers, leaving them with issues that may not ever go away.

Cocaine’s Effects

To understand the long-term effects of crack, you must first understand how it functions. When taken, it immediately goes to work on altering the limbic system. This system is a complex collection of nerves and neural pathways that are directly tied to instinct and mood. When the high is achieved, the user gets a sense of euphoria. This happens because cocaine tricks the body into making more dopamine, the chemical responsible for this feeling. Normally, once too much dopamine has been created, the body will know to shut down production. The drug stops the body from being able to tell if it has made enough, forcing it to produce far more than is normal or healthy.

Aside from the rush of euphoria, dopamine is also important in the body’s fight or flight response. This is simply how humans respond to external stimuli both physically and emotionally. In addition, it affects the ability to control how people move, retain information and stay motivated. However, dopamine isn’t the only chemical unnaturally affected by cocaine. Serotonin and norepinephrine are also altered, resulting in severe changes in both mood and body function.

Effects on Adolescents

No matter how much they believe themselves to be adults, teens are still growing. Science states that only about 80 percent of the teen brain is completely developed, making it much more susceptible to the harm of drugs. All of the neural pathways are still being formed, which means that teens don’t have total control of coordinating their thoughts with their actions.

When cocaine is introduced to the young brain, the brain tries its best to defend itself. According to a 2010 study by the Society of Neuroscience, the adolescent brain will physically alter its neurons so that the drug cannot take effect. Unfortunately, when these fail and the drug gets through, cocaine’s intensity is increased by 300 percent. Using it again and again only leads to long-term changes in how the individual perceives pleasure. It also prevents teen users from altering their behaviors based on actions of the past. As a result, many young addicts engage in risky behaviors very early on, sometimes even leading to a life of crime and further drug abuse.

Exceptions

Because every mind is different, it’s very hard to predict how strong a teen’s natural defenses against the drug will be. It’s theorized that those with a lower amount of protection run less risk of addiction than those with higher protection. This is because those with a higher protection have much lower sensitivity to the drug, prompting them to take more to feel more, speeding the process of addiction.

If you or a loved one is falling prey to addiction, don’t wait. The longer the problem goes on unaddressed, the harder the long-term effects of crack are to repair. Reach out to our helpline at 800-447-9081 today.

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