This might sound extreme, but the point is to really grab your attention so that you understand that early use of ANY substance makes your child at risk for developing a substance use disorder (also known as addiction). Luckily, the earlier you intervene, the better the chances of helping your child reach their goals in life.
As was discussed in Step 1, the brain undergoes significant changes during adolescence (up until age 25). The limbic system, or dopamine reward system, is really looking for anything that causes that dopamine release - that makes you "feel good." So, having positive reinforcement from teachers and parents, exercising, doing a favorite hobby, etc. will cause dopamine release in this part of the brain and reinforces to your child that they want to keep doing that behavior.
Fearfully, ANY substance of abuse (nicotine, marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, etc.) affects this dopamine reward system and causes a flood of dopamine release! This dopamine release will also tell the brain, "that was awesome, let's do this again."
About 1 in 7 children/teens who start using illicit substances will develop the chronic, lifelong disease of addiction. The goal of The Honey Bee Foundation is to get parents to do what they can to PREVENT (or delay as long as possible) substance use and to intervene early if substance use has already started.
Many parents will say, "oh, but Johnny knows better," "Sally hates needles," "Tommy saw his uncle die from lung disease," "Jenny's brother is in rehab, she knows better..." Although all of this is true, it is very important to understand that the part of the brain that takes those thoughts and turns them into actions - the prefrontal cortex - is not fully developed until age 25. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for judgment, decision making, impulse control. So, even though your child KNOWS, the prefrontal cortex is not fully functioning to actually make your child STOP and think about actions and consequences.
You have a substance that is giving your child great happiness and pleasure and yet the brain has limited ability to help your child understand "don't do this."
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