Effects of Addiction & Drug Use on Development
As the brain undergoes changes to the prefrontal cortex throughout adolescence, those children are at increased risk for addiction. Utilizing abusable substances at these ages "can disrupt brain function in areas critical to motivation, memory, learning, judgment, and behavior control" (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014). Early use of drugs also establishes the individual as more likely to become addicted later in life.
For a further look into the effects of addiction on the brain, check out this page from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
What Can We Do?
Studies have shown that research-based programs can reduce the use of a variety of drugs early in development. Check out NIDA's "Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents" here for more information on substance abuse prevention.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2014. Drugs, brain, and behavior: The science of addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preventing-drug-abuse-best-strategy