You’re Programming Your Brain—Right Now!

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Brain development video screengrab

Image by NIDA. 

The choices you make about your health today might not seem very important. They’re just for today, right? Does it really matter that much if you don’t get enough sleep most of the time, don’t exercise, eat a lot of junk food, or even use drugs sometimes?

Science has found the answer: Yes, it matters a lot. 

Your brain keeps developing until you’re about 25 years old. So, if your brain was a computer, it would take 25 years to write all the code for it to operate at its best. Fortunately, your brain’s “code” is influenced by things you can control. This includes health choices you make. 

Drug use is a prime example of a decision you might face that can have far-reaching consequences. Like missing out on sleep or eating junk food, using drugs interferes with your brain’s function—it can scramble the code.

Researchers are just beginning to understand how changes to the code in the teen years affect our brains in the long-term. They also want to learn if these changes can be reversed.

Check out this video for more on how your brain develops (and click here for a Spanish translation):

Learn more: Anyone can become addicted to drugs.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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