Why adolescents are at risk of misusing alcohol and gambling

Abstract

Aims: The aim of the study was to explore the reasons for alcohol misuse and other risk-taking behaviours in adolescence. Methods: Narrative review. Results: Vulnerable adolescents make suboptimal addictive-related choices in the period of initiation of alcohol use and gambling, which is also a period of cognitive and brain development, and in health behaviours. Hyperactive response to rewards as well as possibly hypoactive responses to punishments combined with weaknesses in the abilities to regulate strong impulses results in greater risk of alcohol and gambling misuse. Conclusion: Abnormal patterns of alcohol consumption (e.g. binge drinking) could dramatically reinforce this disequilibrium by enhancing salience for alcohol and associated information and compromising self-regulatory processes. There are some preventive and therapeutic cognitive training strategies that can strengthen willpower in adolescents.

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