Cocaine, as noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the coca plant native to South America. Medical health care providers may use this drug for medical reasons such as anesthesia, but outside of doctor’s offices, it is illegal. Cocaine looks like a white, fine, crystal powder. Many people utilize cocaine by snorting it, rubbing it onto their gums, injecting it, or smoking it. Cocaine use is dangerous and harmful when taken illegally, but a new study shows that it could be even more harmful even it was abused during adolescence.

Researchers from the University of Sao Paulo’s Medical School in Brazil compared 103 cocaine dependent patients, with two groups: 52 patients who began cocaine use before the age of 18 and 51 patients who began on or after the age of 18. There was a third control group with 63 people who had no history of psychoactive substance abuse. Participants ranged from ages 20-35. Several tests were involved, and participants were asked to complete certain tasks such as reproducing a figure from memory 30 minutes after observing it or writing numbers down in a reverse order.  The scientists found that because adolescence is a key stage of development, drug use during this stage can impair brain programming processes, making individuals more impaired at sustained attention, working memory, and declarative memory (storing and retrieving data after a period).

Multi-tasking and resting-state brain activity are just a few factors examined by researchers. The study has brought attention to the importance of prevention and treatment programs that target adolescents. If an adolescent has abused cocaine, however, hope is not lost. NIDA has stated that behavioral approaches such as adolescent community-reinforcement approach (A-CRA), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management (CM), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), and 12-step facilitation therapy as evidence-based practices that support adolescents with addiction. Family-based approaches, addiction medications and other recovery support services such as continuing care, mutual help groups, peer recovery support groups and recovery high schools may be an option as well.

If you have an adolescent who has an addiction and you are ready to seek help, contact us at New Vista Behavioral Health today. We offer integrative, client-focused treatment with attention and care towards the mind, body, and spirit. We want to help your loved one overcome their addiction, and we will work with them every step of the way. We have several different treatment centers that your loved one can attend, depending on their needs. Take the steps necessary to ensure your child’s health. Call us today at 866-855-4202.


Addiction and behavioral healthcare are within reach when you join us at New Vista Behavioral Health:
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If you are ready to pursue a life committed to your health, relationships and emotional well-being, you have a team that is willing to walk alongside you and restore hope for your future. Let us help you in taking the first step in your journey to recovery.

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