Adolescence is marked by acute biological changes such as sexual maturation, height and weight gain, and further development in brain structure and organization. These rapid and amazing changes take place during a period of social pressures in which many young adults find themselves simultaneously adapting to changes in their bodies while trying to fit in to their peer groups.
What risks arise for addiction in such a scenario; how can we better assess these risks; and what are the long-term repercussions for addiction at such a tender age? Such is the matter of the next Demystifying Medicine.
Nora Volkow is director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and a principal investigator in the NIH Intramural Research Program. Her body of research has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a brain disorder. She has pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate how substance use affects brain functions, and she also has made important contributions to the neurobiology of obesity, ADHD, and aging.
Brenda Curtis is a principal investigator in NIDA Translational Addiction Medicine Branch. Her research focus is translational, leveraging social media and big data methodology to form the development, evaluation, and implementation of technology-based tools that address substance use and related conditions such as HIV/AIDS. She also is making strides in understanding how stigma plays a fundamental role in the development and perpetuation of health inequities and addiction.