Adolescent drug exposure: A review of evidence for the development of persistent changes in brain function.


Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran. Electronic address: [Email]


Over the past decade, many studies have indicated that adolescence is a critical period of brain development and maturation. The refinement and maturation of the central nervous system over this prolonged period, however, makes the adolescent brain highly susceptible to perturbations from acute and chronic drug exposure. Here we review the preclinical literature addressing the long-term consequences of adolescent exposure to common recreational drugs and drugs-of-abuse. These studies on adolescent exposure to alcohol, nicotine, opioids, cannabinoids and psychostimulant drugs, such as cocaine and amphetamine, reveal a variety of long-lasting behavioral and neurobiological consequences. These agents can affect development of the prefrontal cortex and mesolimbic dopamine pathways and modify the reward systems, socio-emotional processing and cognition. Other consequences include disruption in working memory, anxiety disorders and an increased risk of subsequent drug abuse in adult life. Although preventive and control policies are a valuable approach to reduce the detrimental effects of drugs-of-abuse on the adolescent brain, a more profound understanding of their neurobiological impact can lead to improved strategies for the treatment and attenuation of the detrimental neuropsychiatric sequelae.


Adolescence,Alcohol,Amphetamines,Brain development,Cannabinoids,Cocaine,Nicotine,Opioids,

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