Neurobiology of Addiction for Youth and Young Adults


This training focuses on the brain structures and systems involved in addiction, the role of learning in the addiction process, and the critical neurological differences between youth and adults. We will first review typical adolescent brain development and how substances can impact the brain’s reward pathway system, leading to addiction.  We will also discuss the impact of both adverse childhood experiences and mental health challenges on neurodevelopment. 

We will then focus on the disease model of addiction (as defined by the medical community and evidenced by research), and the role that key regions of the brain play in the development of substance use disorders. We will discuss what takes place at the synaptic cleft when neurons are impacted by substances, and how this changes brain functioning in both the short-term and long-term.  Finally, we will review the implications of the neurobiology of addiction for youth and young adults in recovery and discuss ways that we can help support their recovery over time.

This training is aimed towards anyone working with youth and young adults; prior knowledge is not required.

Led By
MA Department of Public Health, Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, Office of Youth and Young Adult Services, IHR & AdCare Educational Institute, Inc.
Event Type
Resource Topic
Risk and Protective Factors