Being Resilient in Youth May Keep Alcohol and Drug Use at Bay

Being able to go with the flow and adapt oneself to the current set of circumstances is helpful when coping with unfamiliar situations. Learning how to be resilient at a young age may teach kids that they have other options and don’t need to cave to peer pressure when it comes to drug or alcohol use. In fact, new evidence suggests a link between youngsters exhibiting low resiliency levels and the abuse of alcohol or drugs later as teens. A University of Michigan study looked at brain functioning of participants to examine links between memory and the trait of resiliency. Researchers uncovered that increases in resiliency levels could serve to help keep adolescents from developing drug or alcohol problems later in life. Previous research on the subject showed that preschool age children who never learned to be resilient were at greater risk of teen drug use than others. The new study unveiled that this group could be drinking alcohol as early as 14 years old and getting drunk before their 18th birthday. In order to test working memory, investigators chose 67 adults ranging in age from 18 to 22 and used MRI scans to examine connections between regions of the brain responsible for task management. Previously tested resiliency scores were compared to drinking and drug use levels as the group transitioned into adulthood. Investigators also looked at family history and the age at which individuals began drinking. The connection between low levels of resiliency, working memory and task activation in the brain is significant because it will help in the development of prevention programs. For example, preemptive cognitive therapy may be helpful for those who are considered high risk. The study is also noteworthy because researchers believe they may have uncovered why resiliency can help circumvent alcohol and drug abuse and which parts of the brain are involved in directing this process.

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