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Drugs & Health Blog

Cocaine and the Teen Brain

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

The human brain continues to grow during the teen years, well into the twenties. It’s a scientific fact that abusing drugs and alcohol while your brain is still developing can change the brain’s structure and how it works—both in the short and long term.

Yale University scientists recently explored how some of these changes occur when the brain is exposed to the stimulant cocaine—and learned that some changes result from the brain trying to protect itself.

Your Brain’s Self-Defense

When exposed to cocaine for the first time, the teen brain tries to defend itself against the harmful drug by changing the shape of the brain cells (or neurons) and synapses. This defensive reaction is controlled by a certain pathway in the brain involving integrin beta1, a crucial gene in the development of the nervous system in humans and most animals.

The scientists discovered that if they blocked the pathway—and prevented this cell-shape change—the mice became three times more sensitive to the effects of cocaine.

This research may explain why some people who use cocaine end up addicted to the drug while others escape its worst effects. Everyone’s genetic makeup is unique. It’s possible that those with strong integrin beta1 pathways are better able to avoid the dangerous effects of the drug. More research is needed to discover which genes can protect the brain from the effects of cocaine and other drugs.

Good News: Cocaine Use Is Down

The number of teens using cocaine has been steadily declining over the past decade. In fact, use among all age groups is down.

Update: More teens continue to make smart choices about cocaine use. Read about this and other positive trends in youth substance use.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


most teens do this cuse of just pir pressher and there friends or that ur live is just bad and they think cocain is something u can go to becuse they think it understands

most teens do this so that they can get laid not pir pressher
why would this work
It would work because its scientifically proven so it works.
good grammar guys ur really smart winners 4 life
drugs are stupid
ITs pure pressure
Its peer pressure, not pure pressure or pir pressher
nice grammar
nice face
No. Most kids do this because of pure pressure AND they don't know all of the side effect and what it can do to you! If you haven't realized, this is the real life. And so many kids don't take it seriously enough.
peer pressure* nuuuuuuuhhhuuhh
thank you!!!!!!
I've never been peer pressured into drugs my entire life
ivw done cocaine at 15 and really **** up my brain. is there any way for it to recover. im afraid it might eventually kill me.

It’s very brave of you to reach out for help. We strongly recommend you talk to a health professional like a doctor or counselor, or an adult you trust. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. This free, confidential helpline is open 24/7/365, and trained professionals can give you advice for all kinds of tough situations, not just suicide.

This video will tell any teen what they have to look forward to if they should choose a life of addiction

The producers of this short film are both recovering addicts who have both spent time living and indulging with drug addiction in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Today they are both clean and sober with multiple years of recovery
[commercial link removed, per guidelines]

im learning about cocain right now. i would love for some help on my project (;

Cocaine is bad for you dony use it

I didn't know this before. This is very useful information.

Cocaine is bad for you dont use it.



Just kidding. Don't do drugs, kids!

dont do drugs

Crack is bad, comrades!

drugs are bad for you!!! KBYE

dont do drugs. kbye

Drugs are bad
Guys dont do drugs. OK, badbadbadbad! BAD for you! ick!
cocaine, like crack with many of the same effects, is whack! CTHULHU sais; dont do drugs, they screw with your head.
crack is very very bad drug for any one don't make the same mistake miley cyrus
this is very bad
guuy. Dees Drugs are bad for you done do them or yull get hert
wat r cocaine? ;P
I'm concerned because my 17 tf old us experimenting with that too now...
what are legal consequences for cocaine?

Using cocaine is against the law in the United States, and the consequences of using cocaine go far beyond legal worries. Cocaine changes the way your brain works, for starters. For more information, check out the Drug Facts page on cocaine:

How do scientists find out that someone’s brain has tried to fight off the affects of cocaine. When does the brain know when to start fighting off the cocaine.

These are very insightful questions! If you’d like to learn about the effects of cocaine on the brain, please visit our drug facts page at You can also find more detailed scientific information here:

what happens if you eat cocaine

Cocaine is classified as a stimulant-type drug of abuse. Ingesting (i.e., eating) cocaine will produce effects that are similar to those produced when the drug is snorted or injected. The effects include increased energy, enhanced mood, and decreased appetite. Importantly, cocaine can also cause blood vessels to narrow, constricting blood flow, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body. The heart might work so hard that it stops. This is why people can die suddenly from a heart attack after using cocaine. With repeated use, cocaine can cause addiction.

Most kids I think do this because they think they’re cool doing it and peer pressure. How can people sau that teen don’t know what cocaine can do to you when they know it’s harmful so they shouldn’t even be doing it in the first place