Tuesday, January 1, 2013

An Increased Risk for Addiction in Adolescents?

I found the notion interesting that adolescents might be more inclined to become addicted to tobacco use, especially in light of other evidence that suggests pruning in the pre-frontal cortex leaves adolescents predisposed to risk-taking behavior (Gardiner & Steinberg, 2005; Sullivan, Childs,  & O’Connell, 2010).  When adolescents start drinking by 13, they have a 44% chance of becoming an alcoholic, whereas an individual who begins drinking over age 21, has a far reduced chance at under 10 % (Dryfoss, 1991).  This makes me wonder if the same brain changes that contribute to risk-taking behavior also predispose an adolescent to addiction.  I could not, however, find research that supports this association. 

Dryfoss, J. G. (1991). Adolescents at risk: Prevalence and prevention. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

Gardner, M., & Steinberg, L. (2005). Peer influence on risk-taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: An experimental study. Developmental Psychology, 41(4), 625–635. 

Sullivan, C. J., Childs, K. K., & O’Connell, D. (2010). Adolescent risk behavior subgroups: An empirical assessment. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39, 541–562

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