A new research study has shown that teen methamphetamine use may cause more brain damage than adult use of the same illegal street drug. This may be in part because teen brains are still developing. Researchers involved in the latest study on teen methamphetamine use and brain damage performed brain scans with an MRI, and the group of chronic methamphetamine users who were scanned included 51 teenagers and 54 adults. These scans were compared to the same type of brain scan on a control group of 60 teens and 60 adults who did not use the drug. All of the participants in the research study were from South Korea, and the results were published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal. The teens who engaged in chronic use of the drug had greater damage from this use, and the areas damaged in the brain were more widespread and more extensive.
When asked about the study on brain damage and teen methamphetamine use Dr. Perry Renshaw, University of Utah professor of psychiatry and the senior author of the study, stated in a news release “There is a critical period of brain development for specific functions, and it appears that adolescents who abuse methamphetamine are at great risk for derailing that process.” Ewha W. University professor and study author Dr. In Kyoon Lyoo explained “It’s particularly unfortunate that meth appears to damage that part of the brain, which is still developing in young people and is critical for cognitive ability. Damage to that part of the brain is especially problematic because adolescents’ ability to control risky behavior is less mature than that of adults. The findings may help explain the severe behavioral issues and relapses that are common in adolescent drug addiction.”