Changes in Brain Function Shown in Young Adults Who Occasionally Use Stimulants

journalofneuroscienceAccording to researchers at the University of California, San Diego, young adults who occasionally use stimulants including cocaine, amphetamines or prescription drugs such as Adderall show brain changes on scans.

In a controlled experiment, researchers tested reaction times of two groups of college students between the ages of 18 and 24. The students were divided into two groups. One group’s participants had never taken stimulants and the other group’s participants had taken stimulants on average 12 to 15 times. Both groups were screened for factors, such as alcohol dependency and mental health disorders, which might have affected study’s results.

The researchers showed the students either an X or an O on a screen and instructed them to press, as quickly as possible, a left button if an X appeared or a right button if an O appeared. If a tone was heard, then were instructed not to press a button.

In the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers reported interesting results. Occasional stimulant users showed a tendency towards impulsivity indicated by their faster reaction times. Occasional users also made more mistakes when they heard a tone, compared with nonusers.

The researchers aim to eventually be able to use a person’s brain activity patterns to identify at-risk youth before they show outward signs of addicted behaviors. Dr. Martin Paulus said the differences they observed in participant’s brains represent an internal hard wiring that may cause some people to be more prone to drug addiction when they are older.

“If you show me 100 college students and tell me which ones have taken stimulants a dozen times, I can tell you those students’ brains are different.” Paulus said in a statement. “Our study is telling us, it’s not “this is your brain on drugs,’ it’s ‘this is the brain that does drugs.’”

Mike Loverde

As a Certified Intervention Professional (CIP), member of NAATP, NAADAC, and accredited by the Pennsylvania Certification Board, Mike Loverde knows first-hand what it’s like to live life with addiction. By overcoming it, he had a calling to work with others who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions—the people who use and the families who feel helpless watching them decay.

With thousands of interventions across the United States done and many more to come, Loverde continues to own the intervention space, since 2005, by working with medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and others who need expert assistance for their patients who need intervention. To further his impact on behavioral health and maximize intervention effectiveness, Loverde is near completion of a Masters in Addiction Studies (MHS) accreditation, as well as a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor (LISAC), and is committed to attaining the designation of a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).

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