4 Types of Cognitive Processes That Have an Impact on Teens’ Addictive Behaviors

Teenage boy recoveryThe teenage years are a period of growth and development and as the brain is growing, so are our teen’s cognitive skills. These are core skills that we use to think, read, learn, remember, reason and more – since these skills are still developing in our youth, they are more prone to act without thinking about consequences, which is where addictive behaviors may come into play. By learning of some of the types of cognitive processes that are having an impact on your teen’s behavior, you may gain a clearer understanding of what your teen is likely going through. Addiction impacts everyone differently, especially our teens.

A 2015 review published in Current Addiction Reports noted several implicit cognitive processes that influence a teen’s tendencies towards addictive behavior, such as:

  • Attentional bias – how a teen may decide to choose substances over other activities
  • Biased action tendencies – the motivation to move towards or away from substances
  • Memory bias – associations to certain words, such as “Friday nights” or “feeling good”
  • Cue reactivity – activation in the brain regarding the use of substances

Frances Jensen, professor and author of the book titled The Teenage Brain, explained to the National Public Radio (NPR) in 2016 that a common misconception among many adults is that since their teenagers look like adults, they think like one, too. She expressed that the prefrontal and frontal cortex of the brain is responsible for critical thinking skills, which teens aren’t able to access as quickly since they’re still developing. She stated,

“An adult is much more likely to control impulses or weigh out different factors in decisions, where a teenager may not actually have a full on-line, in the moment capacity. And that’s why we see this increased in risk…”

If you’re ready to help your teen begin their journey to recovery, speak with a professional from Cumberland Heights today.

Adolescent Recovery of Cumberland Heights (ARCH) originally began in 1985 when there were few other adolescent programs like it in the country. In 2019, we’re expanding our continuum of services with ARCH Academy, a unique program that offers 60 days to 6 months of residential care to adolescent boys ages 14-18 who are struggling with alcohol and/or drug addiction. This new program stems from Cumberland Heights, which has been around since 1966 and is located in Kingston Springs, Tennessee. The adolescent age is a critical time for development, making this a crucial time of positive influence. For more information, call us today at 1-800-646-9998.