Teen Drug Users More Resilient Than Adults?

A new study shows adolescents may be less vulnerable to the long-term effects of withdrawal and relapse than those who take drugs as adults.

Are kids less vulnerable to long-term effects of drug use than adults? Georgia State University researchers think so. A recent study seems to show that adolescent rats are less vulnerable to the long-term effects of withdrawal and relapse in certain types of drug use than rats that take the drugs in adulthood.

Adolescent and adult rats were given morphine, heroin and cocaine in the study carried out by Kyle Frantz, associate professor of neuroscience. Surprisingly, the younger animals were less motivated to seek the drugs after a period of abstinence than the older mice. The younger rats also showed fewer signs of drug withdrawal.

“The results are interesting because they suggest that younger animals do not show the same level of vulnerability as adults, at least with the drugs and conditions we’ve tested so far,” Frantz said.

While they can’t say with certainty that the results would be identical in humans, the study expands scientists’ understanding of the process in humans and helps them to develop better treatment methods.

“Regardless of what people do during the teenage years, the question is whether they will transition to adult addicts who will choose drugs over responsibilities like family and work,” Frantz said.

Teen drug use

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