Study Finds Excessive Pot Smoking Leads to Verbal Memory Loss

Another study has raised concerns amid the ongoing debate over marijuana legalization, particularly among those at adolescent residential rehab centers that see the effects of this drug firsthand. The new study indicates daily, long-term marijuana use may contribute to impairment of short-term memory. When combined with the results of other studies, opponents of marijuana legalization point out that these findings support the idea that marijuana use can lead to some type of cognitive decline over time.

Marijuana Use and Verbal Memory Loss
The recent study, which was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at the marijuana use of nearly 3,400 Americans over a period of 25 years. All of the subjects were between the ages of 18 and 30 years at the beginning of the study, and answered questions about their pot use eight times throughout the duration of the research. At the end of the study, subjects were asked to complete a bevy of cognitive tests that measured focus, short-term memory and decision-making skills, among other cognitive abilities.

One of those tests was a list of 15 words adults were given to read and study. Twenty-five minutes later, the adults were asked to write down all of the words on that list from memory. Adults that used marijuana heavily over an extended period of time were able to recall fewer words overall than those that did not use the drug.

Researchers found that those that smoked pot daily for five years or longer showed “statistically significant” declines in verbal memory. Verbal memory encompasses the ability to recall words. The more pot the test subjects used and the longer they used it, the greater the declines.

At this time, the researchers that conducted the study determined that the cognitive decline might be attributed to the fact that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, may impact how information is processed in the part of the brain known as the hippocampus.

While researchers admitted there were some limitations in the recent study, they also noted that the results gained followed others that have indicted marijuana use could lead to declines in cognitive abilities. For example, a study by New Zealand researchers has found that longtime marijuana users tended to see a dip in IQ scores as opposed to those that never smoked pot. Those reduced scores seemed to persist even if marijuana use was stopped, indicating the decline could be permanent.

Marijuana Risks Documented
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there is substantial evidence that exposure to marijuana has long-term and even permanent effects on the brain. While many of the initial marijuana studies were performed on animals, a growing body of research on humans is showing similar results. Scientists have found additional support that the THC in marijuana alters way the hippocampus functions. Since the hippocampus is the area of the brain responsible for memory formation, it makes sense that altering this area also may alter the way memories are stored, processed and recalled.

In addition to the cognitive impairment marijuana might cause, it has also been shown to damage the lungs and heart, particularly when smoked. Women that use marijuana while pregnant also increase the risk of birth defects in their unborn children. Many are concerned that legalizing the drug could increase its use, which could also increase the potential dangers.

Finding an Adolescent Residential Rehab Center
Contrary to the claims of those in favor of legalizing marijuana, the drug can be both addictive and dangerous. If you are struggling with marijuana abuse, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.


Does Medical Marijuana Lead to Teen Marijuana Use?

As the debate about legalizing marijuana continues across the country, questions have arisen about how legalization for medical reasons has impacted marijuana use among the younger population. While some organizations are asserting the rise in medical marijuana has had no effect on marijuana use among teens, there is evidence to the contrary. Since studies have also shown marijuana use at an earlier age can lead to impaired brain function and even a drop in intelligence, it is important to weigh all the facts when determining whether medical marijuana is a viable option in the U.S.

Teen Use in Marijuana States

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found a direct correlation between teens using pot and states that have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. According to this data, the number of teens using the substance increased by one-third in medical marijuana states. In contrast, the rest of the country saw an increase of six percent in teen pot use.

The survey also found that in 2005, approximately 20 percent of the entire U.S. population lived in states legalizing marijuana for medical reasons. However, those states saw more increases in adolescent marijuana use – up to two-thirds more than the rest of the country. Teen marijuana use in states that have not legalized marijuana has barely increased from 2005-2011.

Is Marijuana Really Medicine?

While the medicinal benefits of marijuana have been touted by some groups in this country, the FDA has yet to recognize the substance as a legitimate medication. Few controlled clinical studies have been performed on marijuana to determine the safety or efficacy of the substance for patients with certain medical conditions. This means the FDA is not able at this time to determine whether the benefits of marijuana outweigh the risks for these patients.

However, the FDA has approved medications that contain the chemicals from marijuana, known as cannabinoids. These medications are currently available in pill form, guaranteeing consistency in every dose taken. Known as dronabinol and nabilone, these medications can be safely prescribed to treat nausea in chemotherapy patients or stimulate appetite in patients suffering from AIDs.

The American College of Pediatricians has stated there is little scientific evidence to support marijuana as medicine and has also warned that legalization of the substance for medicinal purposes has also increased use of marijuana among adolescents. Marijuana legalization is not supported by key medical associations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association.

Despite its legal status in some states, marijuana is a federally illicit substance that can be both addictive and dangerous. If you are struggling with marijuana abuse, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665.


Opioid Prescriptions Can Lead to Abuse, Dependency in Teens

The narcotic OxyContin was recently approved by the FDA for use in children between the ages of 11 and 16. The approval comes at the same time a University of Michigan study found teens that use prescription drugs legally during adolescence have a higher risk for substance abuse when they become adults. In fact, kids that use prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin during high school increase their risk for drug abuse by one-third by the time they reach the age of 23.

The problem appears to be centered on the fact that teens that use prescription drugs as recommended by their doctors find a positive sensation of pain relief from using the drugs. Because this feeling stems from what is perceived as a safe environment for taking the drug, teens may be more likely to turn to that drug later on for non-medical purposes. Unfortunately, the highly addictive nature of opioids can land users in an adolescent residential treatment center rather quickly, since some get hooked after just a few pills.

U-M Study
Researchers in this study looked at data from U-M’s Monitoring the Future study, an ongoing survey that tracks behaviors, values and attitudes of secondary school students and young adults across the U.S. The survey asked more than 6,000 12th graders about their opioid use and followed up with the subjects through ages 19-23 to determine whether opioid misuse occurred during that time.

The study discovered that the teens most likely to abuse opioids often had little or no history of drug use. In fact, many of those students “strongly disapprove” of drug use overall. Richard Miech, lead author of the study and a research professor at U-M Institute for Social Research summed up the findings by saying, “A pleasurable and safe initial experience with a drug is a central factor in theories of who goes on to misuse drugs.”

This particular study did not include specifics of prescriptions like dosage, length of use or effectiveness. The study also did not include students that dropped out of high school prior to 12th grade. Past history suggests drug abuse is more prevalent within this particular population.

The Problem of Opioid Abuse
Opioids are drugs that are prescribed by physicians to treat and manage pain. They are frequently prescribed after surgery or for patients dealing with severe chronic pain issues. These drugs are extremely addictive, even for those taking them for medical reasons. Once the medical problem is resolved, people may continue to crave the drug for the “high” or pleasurable sensation they experience after taking it.

Opioid addiction is extremely dangerous and the risk of an overdose is high. In 2014 alone, there were18,893 overdose deaths linked to prescription painkillers, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Some users that run into difficulty getting the prescription drugs illegally will turn to heroin, an illicit drug that produces similar effects but tends to be cheaper and more readily available on the street. In 2014, 10,754 people died of heroin overdoses in the U.S.

Teens that develop a dependency on opioids often require an adolescent residential treatment center to deal with the acute withdrawal symptoms that often follow opioid abuse. If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid addiction, help is available today. Contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.


Substance Abuse and Adolescent Brain Development

The teen years are a common time for experimentation with drugs and alcohol. This trend can be attributed in part to the way the adolescent brain develops. Unfortunately, that development can also be affected by substance abuse, which can lead to long-term and even permanent impairment in brain function. It is important for parents to understand the link between brain development and substance use to get an accurate picture of how one might affect the other in their children.

Brain Development in Teens
Brain development during the adolescent years generally takes place from the back of the brain to the front. The cerebellum, which is located at the back of the brain and controls physical coordination, is typically the first to develop. This is followed by the maturation of the amygdala, which controls emotion, and the nucleus acumbens, which is responsible for motivation. The last portion of the brain to fully develop is the prefrontal cortex.

The Role of the Prefrontal Cortex
The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain responsible for judgment and decision-making. It also controls impulse control, which is why teens often have a “why not?” attitude when trying new things. Unfortunately, this “why not?” attitude can also lead them to experiment with drugs and alcohol during this time of life.

Effects of Substance Abuse
Because the brain is continuing to develop during the adolescent years, drug and alcohol use during this time can be especially harmful. Some of the effects of substance use on the developing teen brain might include:

  • Problems with memory, due to the impact of substances on the hippocampus
  • Damaged connections in the brain, which affect how teens cope with stress
  • Inability to keep emotions in check or behave properly in social situations
  • Disruption of normal perceptual abilities
  • Learning of unhealthy habits can increase the risk for substance dependency
  • Missed learning opportunities during the crucial brain development period

The specifics and the extent of the damage to the teen brain will vary from individual to individual. In some cases, the teen may be able to overcome at least some of the damage. However, there is no guarantee that the individual will ever have the full function of all the areas of the brain that were impacted by substance abuse during the early years.

Getting Help for Your Teen
The teen brain is vulnerable to many influences during the critical developmental years. Substance abuse during this time can be particularly damaging, which is why teens need help to overcome abuse and dependency as soon as possible. To find out more or get the help you need today, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.


The Connection between Omega-3s and Mental Illness

Mental health disorders and addiction often go hand-in-hand, resulting in what is known as a co- occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. Treating the mental health illness is an important factor in keeping a recovering addict on the path of sobriety. Now, new evidence is suggesting that treatment of mental health disorders may be about more than psychotherapy and medication. While these components are usually necessary for promoting positive mental health, another component may prove equally valuable – supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids.

Diet and Depression: The Correlation
There appears to be a direct correlation between changes to the American diet and an increase in the incidence of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. Psychology Today estimates that around 20 percent of the population in the U.S. suffers from anxiety, making it the biggest neurological problem in the country. According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, nearly seven percent of the general population has a major depressive disorder. At the same time, diets have changed over the past 50-100 years, reducing the amount of omega-3 foods consumed and increasing the consumption of processed foods and refined carbohydrates.

How it Works Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in the health of cell membranes, which impacts a myriad of body systems and functions. One of their jobs is to support communication between cells, including the cells in the brain. When the membranes do not get the essential omega-3 fatty acids they need, inflammation can result that interferes with the normal communication between cells and may lead to a breakdown in proper mental function. Some scientists theorize this breakdown can even impact how serotonin, the “feel good” neurotransmitter is released in the brain, which could contribute to some types of mental illnesses.

What does it Treat? Most of the research to date has focused on the relationship between omega-3’s and depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. However, other mental illnesses are also under scrutiny by scientists, including:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Cognitive Impairment and Dementia
  • Violent Behavior and Self-Harm

While it is certainly not sufficient for doctors to recommend omega-3 supplements in place of other types of treatment for mental illness, the evidence does suggest that supplementation may be a positive complement for improving the results of treatments like psychotherapy and medication. In the battle against mental illness, the more tools we can offer patients, the better their prognosis for both mental illness and addiction recovery. To learn more, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.


Common Anxiety Disorders in Teens

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness among children and teens today. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, the lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders may be as high as 25 percent, while severe disorders occur in nearly six percent of the population. Although treatment of anxiety disorders has a relatively high success rate, only a small number of these disorders are properly addressed. It is important for parents to learn to recognize the symptoms of anxiety disorders, since these conditions can lead to additional mental health or substance use disorders if left untreated.

Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are a number of types of anxiety orders that could affect younger individuals. Some may even have the symptoms of more than one of these disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This disorder entails excessive worry or anxiety about many different types of things or activities. Because the feelings are not triggered by a single issue, they can be prevalent much of the time.

Social Anxiety Disorder This condition is characterized by intense fear or worry of social situations or performing in front of people. It can prevent teens from participating in some types of social activities or even from going to school.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Also known as OCD, this disorder involves uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts or fears that result in repetitive behaviors. For example a person afraid of germs may wash their hands so frequently, their skin becomes chapped and raw.

Panic Disorder
Teens with this condition have physical bouts of panic that might include difficulty breathing, a racing heart and a sense of impending danger. Agoraphobia develops when the teen becomes so focused on avoiding panic attacks, they avoid situations or locations where the attacks might occur.

A phobia is an intense, irrational fear of a specific thing or situation. Some of the more common types of phobias include fear of insects, water, heights, needles or loud noises. When not confronted with the precise fear, the teen is able to function as normal.

Separation Anxiety Disorder
Often seen at an early age, this condition is characterized by a fear of being separated from parents or caretakers. Children and teens with this disorder may worry excessively that something will happen to their parent or their parent will not return as promised.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
This disorder occurs after a stressful or traumatic event and involves re-living the event or experiencing terrifying associations with the event. Common causes of post-traumatic stress disorder include natural disasters, physical assault or a violent accident.

The Impact of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders can be debilitating and directly affect a teen’s quality of life and even the ability to grow and develop properly. These conditions can also greatly increase the risk for substance abuse disorders as some teens may try to mask their anxiety symptoms with drugs or alcohol. The good news is anxiety disorders are very treatable today, thanks to a combination of effective medications and therapy options.

If your teen is struggling with substance abuse and a mental health disorder like anxiety, we can help. Contact the staff at Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665.


When You Have a Mental Health Disorder

It is not unusual for a teen to suffer from a mental health disorder. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in five teens and young adults live with some type of mental illness. Half of those will develop their condition by the age of 14.

Discovering you have a mental health disorder can be frightening and confusing. However, you are not alone in your diagnosis. In addition to friends and family members that are ready to support you, there are a wealth of resources and treatment opportunities for young people struggling with mental illness today. The earlier you seek treatment, the more effective the treatment will likely be. Don’t wait to talk to someone about your illness and seek the help you need.

Common Mental Health Disorders
Some of the most common mental health disorders diagnosed in teens and young adults include:

  • Anxiety disorders – including general anxiety disorder, phobias, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder  Depression – disorders might include major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders – such as bulimia, binge eating and anorexia nervosa
  • Developmental disorders – including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Impact of Mental Illness
A mental health disorder can make even routine tasks in life that much harder. It affects how you relate to friends, family and others in your life. It can be a detriment to your academic performance and your social life. Sometimes it feels like the condition is controlling your life. However, mental illness is just like any other illness – it has a physiological cause and treatment options to help you manage the symptoms.

Treatment of Mental Illness
Getting treatment for mental health disorders is imperative to helping you manage your symptoms and enjoy a higher quality of life. The sooner you seek treatment, the more effective treatment will be and the less of an impact the condition will have on every aspect of your life. In addition, mental illness left unchecked can increase your risk for substance abuse and addiction. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to “self-medicate” their symptoms, but this can often add to the problems of mental illness.

Today, there are effective ways to diagnose and treat all types of mental illness. Medication, talk therapy and other modalities can be used to help you understand your condition and manage the symptoms. Don’t wait until your mental illness causes bigger problems in your life to get the help you need.

At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we see firsthand the impact mental illness can have on substance abuse. If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, help is available. Contact Visions today at 866-889-3665.


Teen Musicians Win GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares® Teens Make Music Contest and a 58th Annual GRAMMY® Experience

~Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares® Recognize Winners~

NEW YORK (Jan. 25, 2016) – Teen musical artist Lee Reh has been chosen as the winner of the sixth annual GRAMMY Foundation® and MusiCares® Teens Make Music Contest for his original interpretation of the importance of living above the influence of drug and alcohol use. Second- and third-place winners have also been chosen. The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares, the two nonprofit organizations of The Recording Academy®, in collaboration with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids’ Above the Influence campaign, will honor all the winners in late January and early February with exclusive GRAMMY® experiences and prizes. The GRAMMY Foundation offers a range of GRAMMY in the Schools music education programs for high school students, teachers, and schools along with archiving and preservation initiatives; and MusiCares provides emergency financial assistance and addiction recovery resources to members of the music industry in need.

The contest asked young musicians, ages 14-18, to compose or create an original song and/or music video that celebrates life above the influence or brings attention to the real-life consequences of substance abuse. All winners will attend the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards® Backstage Experience, a special backstage tour that takes place while artists rehearse for the live GRAMMY Awards.

First-place winner Reh, a student at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School in New York, submitted “Fight,” a song, featuring Rah-mene McDuffie, that encourages teens not to succumb to the negative influences around them. It describes how drug and alcohol use can be as close to a teens’ front door, yet they have the power to rise about the pressures to use, as rapped in the lyrics: “I watch the people on my block sit around using; doing nothing, to themselves they think they doing something. Young girls dressing up asking grown men, let me get 10 dollars to smoke that new new. You wonder why it’s not easy to give into this pressure; just look around, neighborhood is a desert. Using drugs is expected. Huh, I won’t do it. No, I won’t do it.”

“It is an honor to once again partner with the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares to showcase inspiring, talented teen musicians,” said Marcia Lee Taylor, President and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. “As the numbers of submissions grow each year, we continue to be impressed by the level of skill and creativity among all of the contestants as they express what being above the influence means to them and how they are in control over their well-being and their choice to avoid substance abuse.

“We are so proud of how this program has developed since its inception,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the GRAMMY Foundation, MusiCares and The Recording Academy. “The Teens Make Music Contest is an ideal way to underscore the work of the GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares, and our alliance with the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, and we think the program is making a significant difference by providing young people with compelling messages about dangers of substance abuse, and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.”

Chloe Borthwick of Chester, New York, is a sophomore at Warwick Valley High School and the second-place winner for “Hardly Breathe.” The song’s poetic lyrics show the overwhelming force addiction can have on a person: “I can’t take it. You shoot at me like a target, and breathing gets so hard to do, when your atmosphere becomes so cruel. But I can hardly breathe. This air is so contagious. But I can hardly breathe. This wind is too outrageous to inhale into me. I can’t help it. You smack me down ‘til I’m helpless and breathing gets so hard to do when the air around you becomes so subdued.”

Third-place winner Shannon Corsi, a student at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School in New Jersey, submitted “Trailblazer.” Her song motivates teens to be true to themselves and be empowered to not follow the crowd involved in harmful behaviors: “Stepping away from what will bring you down; being the outlier of the town, can feel lonely only if you let it. Create the life you want to live, and rise above the influence. Don’t, don’t ever say ‘impossible.’ It’s up to you to be a mover, a shaker, a leader, a thinker, a trailblazer.”

The first-place winner will receive two tickets to the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles on Monday, Feb. 15, two tickets to the GRAMMY Celebration®, a grand cash prize of $5,000 courtesy of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a cash award of $500 provided by Visions Adolescent Treatment Center, and the opportunity to perform a set at the Acoustic Tent on the 2016 Vans Warped Tour in the city closest to their hometown. The second- and third-place winners will receive two tickets to the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards, cash prizes of $250 and $100 (provided by Visions Adolescent Treatment Center), respectively, and all three winners will have the opportunity to attend the 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards backstage experience during rehearsals Friday, Feb, 12. Other prizes include a VISA gift card valued at $250 to be used toward airfare to and from Los Angeles, two tickets to any Vans Warped Tour show, gift bags and more. All three winners will have their original compositions posted on the MusiCares and GRAMMY Foundation’s websites, the Vans Warped Tour website, and the Above the Influence website this month. Winners will also be featured during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week taking place Jan. 25 – 31, 2016.

Honorable mentions go to Kameren Saulsberry of Lithonia, Georgia, for her song “Influence,” and Yahya Abdul-Basser of Jamaica, New York, for his song “For You.”

MusiCares and the GRAMMY Foundation provided a panel of judges that included music industry professionals, while the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids provided technical expertise in the judging process. Points were given for accurate depictions of subject matter. The winning entries can be heard at

About the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids is dedicated to reducing substance abuse among adolescents by supporting families and engaging with teens. We develop public education campaigns that drive awareness of teen substance abuse, and lead teen-targeted efforts that inspire young people to make positive decisions to stay healthy and avoid drugs and alcohol. On our website,, and through our toll-free helpline (1-855-DRUGFREE), we provide families with direct support and guidance to help them address teen substance abuse. Finally, we build healthy communities, advocating for great access to adolescent treatment and funding for youth prevention programs. As a national nonprofit, we depend on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and the public sector and are thankful to SAG-AFTRA and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity. We are proud to receive a Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest and most-utilized independent evaluator of charities, as well as a National Accredited Charity Seal from The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

About the “Above the Influence” Campaign

Above the Influence (ATI) is a national program led by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids that challenges youth, ages 12 – 17, to think critically about the adverse effects of drug and alcohol use and the potential negative influences surrounding them in their social and media environment. ATI connects directly with teens and local youth-serving organizations to deliver messages, activities and support to help teens stay “above the influence” of drugs, alcohol and risky behaviors. Multiple scientific findings indicate that teens who have increased exposure to and engagement with ATI have stronger anti-drug beliefs than teens with low exposure to the campaign.

About the GRAMMY Foundation

The GRAMMY Foundation was established in 1988 to cultivate the understanding, appreciation and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture. The Foundation accomplishes this mission through programs and activities that engage the music industry and cultural community as well as the general public. The Foundation works in partnership year-round with its founder, The Recording Academy, to bring national attention to important issues such as the value and impact of music and arts education and the urgency of preserving our rich cultural heritage. In recognition of the significant role of teachers in shaping their students’ musical experiences, the GRAMMY Foundation and The Recording Academy have partnered to present an annual Music Educator AwardTM. Open to current U.S. music teachers in kindergarten through college, the third annual Music Educator Award recipient will be given recognized during GRAMMY Week 2016. For more information about our music education programs, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, please “like” GRAMMY in the Schools® on Facebook, follow the GRAMMY Foundation on Twitter @GRAMMYFdn and join us on Instagram @GRAMMYFdn.

About MusiCares

MusiCares was established in 1989 by The Recording Academy to provide a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need. MusiCares’ services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies, and each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. For more information, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, please “like” MusiCares on Facebook and follow @MusiCares on Twitter and Instagram.

Addiction Adolescence Recovery

Predicting Adolescent Recovery

A new study has identified a factor that can help to predict the success of adolescent recovery after substance addiction. Researchers have discovered that mastery of one’s thinking could help to predict reduced use of substances like marijuana and cocaine over time. This new study could shed light on how brain function might impact addiction treatment and recovery. It might also provide clues in how utilizing a reward system could improve the outcome of the recovery process for some teens and adults.

Measuring Inhibitory Control
Taking control over one’s thinking processes is guided by areas of the frontal lobe of the brain. While the activation of these areas can be measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), it cannot be accurately measured by behavioral testing. Instead, scientists used a cognitive test, known as antisaccadic test evaluation, which provided a more thorough assessment of inhibition control. Researchers were also able to add another factor to this evaluation – financial reward – to determine the effect these types of rewards had on impulse control.

The study, which was published in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, found that adolescents with greater inhibition control were less likely to have a substance use disorder or SUD. However, adolescents were also able to increase their inhibition control through a positive reward system that was based on their performance. This was the case regardless of other factors like the amount of alcohol consumed or the symptoms of SUD.

Young Males Subject of Study
A total of 14 teens were included in this study, with subjects averaging 17 years of age. The large majority (93 percent) were Caucasian and nearly three-fourths were male. All of the test subjects had average IQ levels, 29 percent met the criteria for ADHD, 43 percent for conduct disorder and 21 percent for major depressive disorder. Study outcomes were based on frequency and total days of substance use, as well as substance use six months after baseline.

Takeaways from this study include the fact that adolescents with greater activation of the area of the brain guiding inhibition control tended to see better results in their efforts to overcome their SUDs. Those the received performance-based rewards could improve their inhibition control to help them overcome an SUD. Overall, this study may help those working in addiction recovery to better understand the workings of the adolescent brain and their ability to succeed in SUD intervention. This knowledge can ensure the proper tools are employed during treatment to ensure a higher quality success rate in the recovery process overall.

Addiction ADHD Adolescence Anxiety Bipolar Disorder Depression Mental Health Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Personality Disorder Recovery Social Anxiety Stress

Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Mental illness is a frequent partner of substance abuse and addiction, although the cause-and-effect between the two isn’t always clear. However, the issue is a prevalent one that needs to be considered anytime treatment is sought for substance abuse, because diagnosing both correctly is a key component to a healthy recovery process. There are a number of different types of mental illnesses that are often seen in combination with substance abuse and addiction.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses associated with substance abuse. In some cases, substances may be used to mask the symptoms of depression. Other times, substance abuse may bring on the depression symptoms or make them worse. Symptoms of depression might include:

  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Persistent feelings of sadness or guilt
  • Loss of interest in or ability to enjoy activities
  • Diminished energy levels and fatigue
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Changes to sleep or appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts or ideations

Anxiety disorders are also a frequent problem for those struggling with substance abuse. There are different types of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety and panic attacks. Substances may be used to lessen the symptoms at first, which often only serves to make the symptoms more intense over time. Symptoms of these conditions might include:

  • Feelings of restlessness or nervousness
  • Excessive and ongoing worry and tension
  • Irritability and fearfulness
  • Sweaty palms, racing heart, shortness of breath
  • Headaches, dizziness or nausea

Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is a disorder often diagnosed in adolescents and frequently associated with substance abuse. This disorder is characterized by three basic components:

  • Hyperactivity – difficulty sitting still, excessive talking, always seems to be “on the go”
  • Inattention – disorganization, lack of focus, forgetfulness, distraction
  • Impulsivity – impatience, blurting out answers, guessing instead of solving problems

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental disorder characterized by extreme swings of mood and energy levels. During the manic phase, the individual exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Excessive irritability
  • Bursts of energy, requiring little sleep
  • Distracted easily
  • Engage in impulsive, high-risk behaviors

Manic phases are typically followed by depressed states, which may include the following symptoms:

  • Extended periods of sadness or hopelessness
  • Low energy, excessive fatigue
  • Significant changes to appetite and sleep patterns
  • Thoughts and ideations of suicide

When mental illness accompanies a substance abuse disorder, it is imperative to address both disorders simultaneously to give the patient the best odds for a successful recovery. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we are experienced in treating both of these conditions at the same time, a situation known as dual diagnosis. Our team of healthcare professionals is equipped to work through both disorders and give our patients the best odds of successful sobriety and improved mental health. To learn more about dual diagnosis or our treatment programs, contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.

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