Occasional Drug Users Have a Higher Risk for Addiction Later in Life

Do you have a friend who’s pressuring you into trying out some of the drugs that he’s been taking or have discovered recently? He’s probably been wildly enthusiastically explaining all the effects and “benefits” that the drug does for you.

Some of these drugs, you’ve probably heard of before – marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, and maybe even Adderall.

Researchers from the University of California have recently brought forth some very alarming findings. According to a study they’ve conducted, even occasional drug usage for college students may alter their brain significantly enough to increase the risks of addiction and make them more prone to it later in life.

“If you show me a 100 college student and point me to the ones who’ve used stimulants at least a dozen times, I’ll show you two different types of brains.”
Martin Paulus, M.D.,
UC San Diego

In the experiment that they conducted, they asked college student between the ages of 18 and 24 to press a left or right button, corresponding to the X or O they saw on a screen (X = left button, O = right button).

However, they also instructed them that if they heard a tone, not to press any button.

What was being measured here were the reaction times between different students – obviously, comparing the results of those who had been and who had not been taking stimulants.

It was found that those who’ve used stimulants on an average of 12-15 times were able to have slightly faster reaction times when it came to pressing corresponding buttons.

In comparison, those who were in the control group was marginally slower.

However, what was most surprising was that when they heard the tone, and were not supposed to press any button, the occasional users made a lot more mistakes, had worse performance, and had more difficulty, when compared to the control group.

The researchers concluded that the occasional drug users had an impaired ability to anticipate a situation and to detect trends in a situation, when it was required for them to stop.

This behavior might demonstrate itself in the future as well, with difficulty to stop taking a certain type of drug.

However, the fMRI’s taken during the course of the experiments lead to the researchers finding out specifically which parts of the brain were being impaired, and at the moment, are working to find ways to re-calibrate or exercise these areas, which they believe are weak in drug addicts.

“At the moment, there are no treatments for addiction to stimulants. The best option would be early intervention.”

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