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Understanding Teen Development

We all take risks, but teens are more likely to take risks than adults because they are less able to use good judgment. The teen brain is still growing. The frontal lobe that is responsible for exercising judgment is not fully developed until a teen is in his or her mid-20s. That's why teens may take crazy risks.

Alcohol and drugs worsen teens' reasoning and seriously mess up their short- and long-term growth. The healthy development of the frontal lobe is crucial, since it is mainly responsible for one's reasoning skill, decision-making, and developing adult personality and behavior. In addition, the hippocampus (located on the sides of the brain), handles memory and learning and suffers the most from alcohol- and drug-related brain damage in teens. In studies, teens who had been drinking more and for a longer time had significantly smaller hippocampi. Even short-term or moderate drinking or drug use early on can impair teens' learning and memory much more than it can in adults.