What Addiction Does to the Teenage Brain - Banyan Boca

What Addiction Does to the Teenage Brain

Teens and young adults are still learning about the world around them as they grow.

In fact, a teenager’s brain is still growing and forming, and the rational part of a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. 1 This is why teens can seem to act irrationally; the prefrontal cortex isn’t fully formed for them. The brain’s continued growth in adolescence and young adulthood illustrates the dangers of using drugs or alcohol at this crucial stage of development.

At Banyan Treatment Centers Boca Raton, we offer drug and alcohol treatment in Boca Raton for young adults and adults who are looking to get and stay sober. We’re analyzing the cognitive effects of teen substance abuse and sharing insight on how to reverse what addiction does to the teenage brain.

How Does Cannabis Affect Teens’ Brain Development?

  Different drugs and substances affect teen brains differently. Adolescents and young adults who abuse cannabis, for example, may be more vulnerable to other addictions and mental health problems.2 Cannabis use as a teenager may also alter function of the body’s endocannabinoid system, a body system that is still being studied but is believed to affect regular functions including sleep, memory, fertility, and mood. 3 Early cannabis use may negatively affect the function of these and other systems. More studies are being conducted on the endocannabinoid system’s importance in functions throughout the body, but early cannabis use is believed to influence this bodily system’s functionality.

One of the most common myths and misconceptions about drugs is that substances like alcohol or marijuana are safe, even for teens, but these drugs are dangerous to teens and their developing brains.

How Do Drugs Affect the Brain of a Teenager?

  As a teenager’s brain continues developing, neural networks are forming that can become long-lasting habits well into adulthood. Prolonged substance abuse or alcohol consumption can cause the brain to form neural networks that encourage lasting addiction. 4 For example, teens who drink heavily in their formative years increase their risks for developing alcoholism later in life, as the neural pathways of alcoholism are already laid during teenage alcohol abuse.5

If you fear that your teenager is using drugs or alcohol, it’s not too late to get them the help they need for sobriety. Call 888-280-4763 to speak to a member of our team at Banyan Treatment Centers Boca Raton for help with recovery.


  1. University of Rochester Medical Center - Understanding the Teen Brain
  2. NCBI - Trajectory of Adolescent Cannabis Use on Addiction Vulnerability
  3. Healthline - A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System
  4. NIDA for Teens - Brain and Addiction
  5. Get Smart About Drugs - How Drugs Alter Brain Development and Affect Teens

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Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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