Questions for “Addiction can develop when reward-seeking changes a teen’s brain”

a group of teen boys and girls dancing at a party

Teens often start using potentially addictive agents, such as alcohol and other drugs, at parties and other social events.

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To accompany feature “Addiction can develop when reward-seeking changes a teen’s brain


Before Reading:

1. What is addiction? To what kinds of things can people become addicted?

2.  Why is so hard for people to quit something to which they have become addicted?

During Reading:

1.  Describe what addiction is and how it changes over time.

2.  What are some behaviors to which people can become addicted that do not involve drugs?

3.  What is dopamine, where does it come from and what role does it play in the brain?

4.  What is the amygdala and what role does it play in addiction?

5.  Why are some people more likely than others to develop an addiction?

6.  According to Lindsay Squeglia, why does exposure to habit-forming substances in adolescence up the chance that someone will become addicted to such substances?

7.  What type of brain changes associated with early substance abuse can last into adulthood?

8.  Priscilla Lui’s research has shown that some social and cultural influences can affect someone’s risk of addiction. What is she referring to?

9.  How can the social background in which people use habit-forming substances affect the risk of abuse, based on work by Lui’s group?

10. Lui says that even where people grow up can affect their vulnerability to substance abuse. What are some examples that she gave?

After Reading:

1.  What, for you, were the three biggest take-home messages from this article? Why did they resonate with you?

2.  Imagine that you were charged with designing a study to understand what factors encourage behaviors in kids that could lead to addiction. You’ve got the resources to survey 1,000 people. Which populations would you make sure to survey and how many people in each? Consider age, gender and other defining traits of people you want to make sure are included among the total group of people surveyed. What are five questions you would include in that survey?