How Addiction Hijacks the Brain
Running Time: 24 Minutes
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This program drives home the message that drug addiction is a disease of the brain and that teens are at highest risk for acquiring this disease. Stephen Dewey and other leading scientists detail how drugs like heroin, nicotine, cocaine and marijuana change the brain, subvert the way it registers pleasure and corrupt learning and motivation. Young recovering addicts provide a human face to the effects of drugs and alcohol as they describe how addiction involves intense craving for a drug and loss of control over its use. Viewers also learn that the brain’s plasticity…or ability to change…offers hope for addicts that they can turn their lives around.
Consultant: Stephen Dewey, Ph.D., Feinstein Institute for Medical Research
video, plus teacher's resource book, student handouts and pre/post tests in digital format
The information here is ably supported by experts, but it's the recovering teens who steal the show. Emily completely nails the feeling that accompanies an alcoholic's first drink when she describes a burning so powerful and so good that you chase it every time you drink but never find it again. Max, a recovering heroin addict, comes in a close second when he recalls how quickly the high evaporates, leaving the user with nothing but a desperate attempt to avoid feeling awful. They and several other articulate teens reveal their personal experiences before and after entering recovery. The clinical information and facts are emphasized by excellent computer graphics depicting how different parts of the developing brain respond and change when drugs and alcohol are used. There are some eye-opening facts: marijuana use before age 18 can lower IQ, but the same isn't true after that age, and the prefrontal cortex, where the ability to conceptualize future consequences isn't fully formed until the early twenties, is a key reason for teen impulsivity. VERDICT This program gives viewers valuable information without preaching and does so extremely well. It would be an excellent choice for libraries and schools.
—John R. Clark, formerly with Hartland Public Library, MESchool Library Journal