Your child is getting older each day. It will not be long before you will find yourself facing questions that you may not feel confident to answer. You will have to make decisions about allowing your children to go to parties where alcohol or other drugs could be available. You may also begin having concerns about a teen’s use of alcohol and other drugs. Whether you are preparing yourself for the future, or need help with an immediate problem, SPORT SAFE can assist you in finding the help you need.
When we think about teens using drugs, we mostly worry about risks to their health and safety. We have never given much thought to how drugs may affect our children’s ability to learn. Recent research has now confirmed that illicit drug and alcohol use has a detrimental impact on learning. Drug use by teens is not only risky for health and safety reasons, but also has a direct impact on their ability to learn in school and thus achieve their maximum academic goals.
The brain is a very complex organ depending on chemical transmitters to properly connect activity between individual cells. Any substance that interferes with these chemical transmitters can have a profound effect on the brain. Medications like antidepressants work that very way in the brain by stabilizing imbalances to chemical transmitters. However, dangerous drugs like marijuana, Ecstasy and cocaine cause these changes as well, but in the process cause permanent damage to the brain cells. Even alcohol permanently kills brain cells.
According to neuroscientists, the brain undergoes major reorganization beginning around the age of 11. At that time, adolescents are vulnerable to traumatic experiences, drug abuse and unhealthy influences. Alcohol specifically has been found to disrupt the brain’s molecular programming. Using gene-array technology, researchers determined that alcohol abuse can change the programming of important areas of the brain on a molecular level. Most of the affect is in the frontal lobe of the brain which does things like planning and problem-solving and judgment. The frontal lobes are still developing until about the age of 16. Drinking before and during this time could mean life-long problems. Drinking teens remember less information taught to them and the memory problems are intensified if adolescents continue drinking throughout their teen years. Drinking teens have been found to have greater risk of other substance abuse, depression and personality disorders as they grow older.
Other drugs cause even more serious brain damage. The National Institute on Drug Abuse scientists have found that a single use of cocaine can modify neural connections in the brain, showing that even occasional drug use can progress into a compulsion or addiction. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that heavy cigarette smoking (one pack or more per day) during adolescence is associated with a higher risk of developing agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in early adulthood. Likewise, use of marijuana is linked to mental health problems like anxiety and panic attacks. Students with a family history of mental illness are at greater risk for the development of problems if they use marijuana. And methamphetamine (Ecstasy) appears to do long-term damage to the regions of the brain affecting memory and motor coordination. Methamphetamine causes a depletion of the chemical messengers in the brain that are related to movement control and pleasure. These changes appear to be permanent resulting in decreased fine motor skills and learning.
SPORT SAFE Testing Service is the leader in the student drug testing industry. SPORT SAFE is nationally recognized for its work with schools around the world, helping many set up drug testing policies and programs. You can count on SPORT SAFE to be on top of drug use patterns by students and ready to recommend improvements to schools each year. Because we are a third party administrator and do NOT own a laboratory or device, you can count on receiving expert, unbiased advice on the development of your program.