William Haning, MD, DFASAM, DFAPA
Of this week’s selections, three, and arguably parts of several more, relate specifically to the pediatric and ephebiatric populations. When measured against adults, they underscore the greater adverse impacts upon children, apart from neurologic structural damage, from cannabis, opioids, tobacco, and stimulants. A supplemental point of view is that provided by Dr. Taryn Park, the lead author of an article on adolescent stimulant use in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Clinics of North America, July 2016 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27338967): in it, she summarizes literature suggesting that adolescents may experience higher rewards from methamphetamine than that witnessed in adulthood. “…Animal models also reveal that the rewarding effects of methamphetamine may be more powerful in adolescence than adulthood. If adolescents experience less aversive properties of methamphetamine use, they may be even more vulnerable to the rewarding effects of use. These findings may help explain the predisposition to use and difficulty with relapse that adolescents experience.”
This reaffirms some basic parenting practices; the notion that children require special protections is not novel. The special susceptibilities of the immature brain are compounded by the very nature of childhood and adolescence, where curiosity is at its most intense in the service of cognitive structuring and skills development. The same curiosity that leads to experimentation and learning, however, also impels the seeking of new sensations. In the unrelenting argument about the role of police and judicial action in restricting substance use, this is the area exempt from doubt. The juvenile population is where interdiction, family restraint, and social control are still clearly required and deserve strong support.
Editor-in-Chief: William Haning, MD, DFAPA, DFASAM
This is an interesting commentary on the greater vulnerability of the adolescent brain to the effects of stimulants such as methamphetamine (and this can probably be extended to other stimulants as well).