Teenagers are more likely to get hooked on marijuana, stimulants and other recreational drugs than college-aged or older adults.

Adolescents and teenagers who experiment with marijuana and prescription drugs are more likely to get hooked on them than young people who try these drugs for the first time when they are college-aged or older, according to a new analysis of federal data.

The research suggests that young people may be particularly vulnerable to the intoxicating effects of certain drugs, and that early exposure might prime their brains to desire them. The findings have implications for public health policymakers, who in recent years have called for increased screening and preventive measures to reverse a sharp rise in marijuana vaping among teenagers.

The new study, published in JAMA Pediatrics and led by a team of scientists at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, sought to gain a better understanding of how adolescent brains respond to a variety of recreational drugs. Previous research suggested that early exposure to marijuana, nicotine and alcohol might lead to faster development of substance use disorders. But the new analysis cast a wider net, looking at the effects of nine different drugs, including opioid painkillers, stimulants, marijuana, alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and tranquilizers.

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Anahad O’Connor – New York Times – 2021-03-29.

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