This article investigates whether experimentation with drugs during adolescence is a common causation factor of substance use disorder even in the future using animal models. That is, it tries to investigate the validity of the debate as to whether intake of drugs during adolescence alters brain development leading to dependence consequently. Using the rodent model literature, the research suggests that the balance between rewarding and aversive effects of drug abuse falls towards reward during adolescence. Nevertheless, the continued increase in rewards did not lead to increased voluntary intake during the age. In fact, it determined that age effects on voluntary intake were mostly method and drug specific. The adolescents found addictive drugs more rewarding as compared to adults. Under some conditions, the adolescents would administer higher levels of doses, especially stressed. However, the adolescents were less likely to demonstrate the withdrawal effects of a drug, which promotes addiction and protects them against compulsory addiction during long-term use. The article lastly demonstrates that susceptibility to drug dependence is as a result of the changes in neuronal structure and brain functioning that makes up the habit and reward formation processes. A keen study of the results indicates that there is no evident or proven link of progression to compulsive use when one uses the drug use begins in adolescence. However, I can understand better why adolescents end up becoming addicts more often, the fact that they find the use of addictive drugs more rewarding identifies how a counselor could approach the issue effectively and know how to handle the adolescents.
At a personal level, I think the study is instrumental to the future handling of substance use Disorders. Most of the people approach the issue from the assumption that addiction for adults does not necessarily follow down from the activities exhibited during adolescence. This study clearly forms an evident relation between progression and compulsive use. The study illustrates that as compared to adults, the adolescents tend to have a different form of balance between rewarding and aversive effects of the use of drugs, which usually falls towards rewards making them more vulnerable to experimentation with the drug. However, the fact adolescents are less vulnerable to withdrawal effects demands that better care is taken when handling people of the age set. The animal model, to a greater extent accurately describes the behavior of adolescents without having to study them necessarily. In the future, I will be keen and wary of the neurobiological considerations of the patients in question and consider their age-context to determine the prevalence of their dependence. Basically, I believe the research findings from this article have made me a better counselor than I was previously.
To establish the reliability and validity of the animal research, the article ranks the behavioral models based on their relevance to human SUD. Ranking the models enabled the researchers to assign greater weights to models that closely resembled human SUD, while those that did not indicate a clear pathological drug intake state were assigned less weight. In this case, vulnerability to SUDs was mostly informed by self-administration involving methods like extinction, progressive ration, punishment, LgA, etc. Despite their relevance in providing information, these methods were least employed and examined considering that they are generally new. The use of weights to determine the most appropriate model to apply to the human situation was more precise to the situation and ensures that one can understand better the level of relation.
In my personal opinion, I believe that the animal research ought to be generalized and applied to human behavior as well. The animal models tend to address the effects of drugs that promote and discourage the intake of drug or even the drug-induced neuroplasticity. In addition, drug dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal, as it relates to physiological phenomena following from continued drug use are also easily measured by the animal models and the new methods devised are finding more creative means of measuring such factors like intake, choice between intake and other activities, among other variables. Finally, I believe that the findings of the research could be generalized to human behavior since the animal models could enhance experimental control. The experimenter can assign the age of initial exposure randomly, the drug, duration, dose, and timing of exposure, whereas human studies do not give such advantages. Its connection with behavioral and neurobiological studies makes them appropriate for generalization.
Schramm-Sapyta, N. L., Walker, Q. D., Caster, J. M., Levin, E. D., & Kuhn, C. M. (2009). Are adolescents more vulnerable to drug addiction than adults? Evidence from animal models. Psychopharmacology, 206(1), 1-21.
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