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Middle and high school students attended a presentation that focused on how drug abuse can affect the teenage brain. From caffeine and nicotine to marijuana, vapes and methamphetamines, the teenagers heard about the dangers, the long-term effects and the risks of addiction.

Dr. Stephen L. Dewey, an expert on the impact these drugs have on the developing brain shared results of his own research, explaining that drug-addicted teens are in every school district. Through images of patient PET scans, Dr. Dewey showed exactly how the brain looks different after taking various drugs, including caffeine. He also described how one drug opens the brain to allow other drugs to have a stronger impact and explained that many drugs affect the brain permanently while others can cause damage that is reversed once the drug use is stopped.

The pet scan images showed the brain changes after just one use in some cases and Dr. Dewey said that teenagers can have personality changes from the effects of these drugs on the developing brain, especially the frontal lobe.

High school principal, Dr. Kieran J. McGuire said the presentation was important and necessary. “Dr. Dewey was able to share a unique perspective based on his own scientific data to empower students to make good decisions.”

Dr. Dewey provided a more in-depth presentation for parents and community members on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium.