ICUDDR-Logo click for home.

< Back to All Resources

Psychoactive Substances and the Developing Brain: New Findings Underscore Prevention Need

Recent research on the brain is showing how the use of nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, and other psychoactive substances can impactthe developing brains of children. Evidence-based prevention and harm reduction programming can help address this next generation risk.


Some of the research involves the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (Gonzalez et al., 2021), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), showing evidenceof changes in the brain caused by early use of nicotine that has impacted the cognitive development of 10 year-olds. Another study by Dai and colleagues (2022) found that children who started using tobacco by age 10 had significantly inferior cognitive performance and smaller brain structures after a 2-year follow-up period.

Related Topics