This past Friday, January 12th, Dr. Steven Dewey, an addiction psychiatrist visited Blind Brook to present his research on the effects of substance abuse on the human brain. Dr. Dewey stated that the purpose of his research and presentation is to show the science behind addiction, especially in younger people. In his practice, Dr. Dewey sees patients as young as nine years old, all affected by substance addiction.
Dr. Dewey described how he utilizes PET scans to analyze the levels of brain activity after the ingestion of different substances, and the differences between healthy brains and addicted brains. Dewey explained that the use of recreational drugs affect the brain’s release of dopamine and does so in excess amounts, creating the “high” and ultimately leading to addiction. With regards to brain development, Dr. Dewey described how the use of substances such as alcohol and marijuana can arrest brain development in certain regions, such as the frontal cortex.
One of the key points of Dr. Dewey’s presentation was the fact that drug use alters brain chemistry for elongated periods of time beyond the “high.” Dewey explained that those who use multiple substances at the same time or in quick succession increase the likelihood of becoming addicted to the second substance due to the brains previously altered state.
In addition to his research on addiction, Dr. Dewey also presented specific facts on vaping, as its use among American youth has skyrocketed in recent years. He sought to clear up the misconception that vaping was completely safe and healthy. Dewey pointed out that metal fragments from the coils of these vapes can break off and be inhaled by the user, leading to the permanent deposit of these materials in the lungs.