The long-term effects of substance abuse

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The long-term effects of substance abuse

I think the best way to talk to your teens about drugs and alcohol, is to tell them the why. They always want to know the why. They need the education as to why things happen the way they do. Tell them about how their brain is continuing to develop until they are 25 years old. The earlier they expose themselves to drugs and alcohol, the greater chance they have of having a likelihood of addiction for the rest of their life. I think it's also important you talk to them about neurotransmitters. They can understand that. The more that they expose themselves to, the more neurotransmitters it releases. Just to put it in perspective, having a bar of chocolate releases 80 dopamine units. Hooking up with somebody or making out with somebody, releases 150 dopamine units. Smoking marijuana releases over 200, cocaine releases 350, meth is 1150. What happens is, there is a release of what we call, conventional reinforcers. The brain starts changing to gravitate towards those substances, and they don't start caring about school or parents or appearance; it's all about acquiring those substances. I think if parents can explain this to them, they will understand a little bit more of why they have a zero tolerance for them.

View Jerry Weichman, PhD's video on The long-term effects of substance abuse...


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Jerry Weichman, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Jerry Weichman is a licensed psychologist and adolescent specialist as well as an author, speaker and parenting expert. His clinical practice at Hoag Hospital's Neurosciences Institute in Newport Beach, California provides a window on contemporary teen and pre-teen behavior.

“Dr. Jerry” as his adolescent patients call him, is a young PhD who really relates to teens, speaks their lingo and has felt their pain. Author of the teen survival guide, How to Deal, and noted media expert on teen issues, Dr. Jerry is focused on helping teens cope with parents, teachers, friends and academic pressure, communicating with them in a way they understand to help successfully navigate the dramas and pressures of adolescence.

Dr. Jerry's popular speeches, lectures and seminars have presented assemblies of students, teachers, parents and administrators with practical approaches on how today’s teens can overcome the trials and tribulations of growing up, from coping with bullying to meeting parental academic expectations to walking away from drugs and other self-destructive behaviors. Jerry also sits on the board of directors for the Bullying Prevention Initiative of California and just recently sat on an expert panel for a screening of the documentary Bully.

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