CNS & Addictive Disorders

Addictive disorders are caused by multiple factors, including genetic vulnerability, environmental stressors, social pressures, individual personality characteristics and psychiatric problems. From a neurological standpoint, addictive disorders arise when a substance changes the way the user’s brain feels pleasure. Addictive substances alter the brain’s ability to send and receive chemicals called neurotransmitters, which cause pleasure. The addictive substances can prevent nerves in the brain called neurons from receiving these pleasure chemicals, meaning the drug user relies on the drug, rather than his or her natural brain chemicals, for feelings of pleasure.

Most of the knowledge available regarding substance abuse and use comes from studying adult populations. A lack of research studying young adult substance abuse and use leaves questions concerning how it differs from substance abuse in other age groups unanswered.

Some adolescents are more at risk of developing addictive disorders, including adolescents with one or more of the following conditions present: 1) Children of substance abusers. 2) Adolescents who are victims of physical, sexual or psychological abuse. 3) Adolescents with mental health problems, especially depressed and suicidal teens. 4) Physically disabled adolescents.

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