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Doctors suggest ‘just say know' as method to combat teen alcohol and drug use

Doctors suggest ‘just say know' as method to combat teen alcohol and drug use



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The holiday season can be full of stress. Your teens may cope by binging on drugs or alcohol. Now there's a new approach on how to talk to them about the danger.

With the holidays coming, your kids may resort to a dangerous kind of Christmas cheer. Dr. Wilkie Wilson from Duke University says just telling your kids to "just say no" won't work.

"It's a horrible problem," Wilson said. "The student said, ‘My gosh, we've been told drugs are bad for you so long, but we've never really been given a reason why.'"

He says that when parents set out to talk about the dangers of drugs, kids just tune out. Instead, he says you need to hook them by talking about the brain.

Wilson, an expert in pharmacology, is the author of "Buzzed," a no-nonsense book about how alcohol and drugs impact the adolescent brain.

The biggest risk, she says, is addiction. "With every drug that we've looked at, the adolescent brain responds differently and in a way that perhaps makes it vulnerable to becoming hooked on the drug than for adults," he explained

Wilson says the reason is that important regions of the brain are still developing well into a person's 20s. "Say I ask you the question: Is it a good idea to set your hair on fire? Well, your answer, your decision, will come in a fraction of the time that an adolescent's would come. You'll say "no," and they'll say "mmm, no," he said.

That hesitation is the teen brain balancing risk versus reward. Using drugs and alcohol can harm a teen brain's ability to weigh the options and can lead to impulsive behavior. Bottom line: avoid lecturing. Instead, help them understand the science.

E-mail: drkim@ksl.com

Dr. Kim Mulvihill

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