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Why Some Teens Begin Experimenting With Drugs

Why do some teenagers start smoking or experimenting with drugs while others do not? A new study of 1,896 14-year-olds looked at brain imaging and reported that networks in the brain give strong evidence that some teenagers are at a higher risk for drug and alcohol experimentation – simply because their brains work differently, making them more impulsive.

“These differences in these networks seem to precede drug use,” said Hugh Garavan of the University of Vermont psychiatry department and one of the authors of the study. The researchers learned that diminished activity in a network involving the orbitofrontal cortex is associated with experimentation with cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs in early adolescence.

“These networks are not working as well for some kids as for others,” said co-author Robert Whelan.

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