Adolescents Influenced by Substance Use in the Environments

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Adolescents Influenced by Substance Use in the Environments

Findings from Duke University, published in the journal of Development and Psychopathology, find that adolescents are more likely to use drugs or alcohol if they see others engage in antisocial or dangerous behavior, especially if they have the ‘risk-taking’ gene. These findings came from a survey of 151 adolescents. The adolescents responded to questions on their cell phones three times a day for 30 days. This was different than most pen and paper surveys as it gave the researchers real-time data on their behaviors.

The adolescents in the study were living in high-risk neighborhoods where they sometimes witnessed others using alcohol or drugs. The adolescents with the risk-taking gene, also known as the DRD4-7R variant, were six times more likely to pick up a substance themselves after witnessing this. Those without the gene were two times more likely. The DRD4-7R variant is linked to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which adds to the likelihood that they may be more influenced by their environments.

Researchers on the study emphasize that young adolescents, like those in the study, should be protected from substances, especially because consuming such substances before age 15 has great impact on brain development.