The developing brain- 25 is the magic number

TruthTalks News   •   December 5, 2016

Recent research has revealed that, in no uncertain circumstances, kid’s brains are developing at warp speed.  More to the point, for adolescents, during these periods of high school drug experimentation/peer pressure/curiousity, impulsivity, bravado (more adjectives can be added) a very important PRUNING & STRENGTHENING process is happening in their brains.  Brain cells and neural connections that get used the least get pruned away (much like a rose bush) and die off; those that get used the most, get stronger. That is a very important fact for parents to realize.

Drugs alter which brain connections get more and less used.  In scientific terms, they mess with brain chemicals.

This vital period of brain development lasts from approximately age 13-25. Parents must do what they can to help kids save those precious brain cells. (don’t quote me but you get the idea.)

What can a parent do?

Educate. Tell your kid what happens to his brain on drugs, and that using drugs during this critical time in his brain’s development can affect him for life. (ie: Research has shown that brain scans have linked alcohol abuse with decreased memory function, heavy use of marijuana decreases gray matter.)Tell him you know that once he has this information about drugs affecting his brain formation, he will make a good choice. Give him the information and try your best to have faith in him.

And in case your words and printed sheets of information fall onto deaf ears and blind eyes (risk taking and impulsivity being hallmarks of this period of brain development) ….

Be there. LISTEN. Keep lines of communication open.  Meet your kids where they are and again….LISTEN. They give off hints. If a child is hinting around about having a tough time at school, instead of dismissing his comments (by saying “it’ll be OK,” or “just grow a thicker skin”) because they make you uncomfortable….LISTEN and say, “tell me more.” HEAR their muted cries that there’s too much pressure at school. ASK them why they want to quit soccer or baseball. Take a walk together. Don’t judge. The judgment of a parent cuts deep. It inevitably causes shame which in turn, causes kids to want to numb the pain of that shame…most usually with alcohol or drugs. Vicious cycles of shame start early.

Listen.  At lease until they’re 25. 🙂

For more information go to Brain and Addiction…. Teens.drugabuse.gov