It’s difficult to convince adolescents of the harmful and potentially deadly effects of drug abuse. After all, teens have an exaggerated sense of invulnerability: “Nothing bad will ever happen to me, regardless of what anyone says, thinks they know, or have experienced.”
But what happens when we aren’t teenagers anymore? What happens when we realize we aren’t so invincible, after all?
When the blissful ignorance of youth fades away, we suddenly start to notice the lasting consequences of our carefree teenage lives. Unfortunately, by the time we’ve figured that out, there has already been damage done.
Teenage substance abuse can change the brain in devastating ways. Some drugs have toxic effects that can kill neurons, alter neurochemistry, and rewire certain neural connections. As adults, continued abuse may lead to memory loss, learning difficulties, impaired concentration, and even interfere with simple, everyday tasks. Mentally speaking, we become old before our time.
While it is important to recognize that drugs can lead to these deteriorating consequences, it is equally important to note that stopping drug use—and remaining clean—can allow the brain to heal itself. Some things might never be fully recovered. But replacing an unhealthy lifestyle with a healthy one can enhance both your brain and behavior.
Here are 7 things that we, as adults, wish we knew about using drugs as teens.
#1. Legal Consequences
DUI’s and other drug or alcohol-related legal charges negatively affect our ability to get accepted to universities, receive financial aid or gain reputable employment in adulthood. Our dreams of fun-filled college life and high-paying careers are crushed before we even graduate high school.