Drug use is linked to short- and long-term cognitive impairment. Drug use can inhibit brain function and can even alter the structure of developing brains. While effects vary by drug and individual users, there are some universal effects of drug use:
Compared to non-users, teens who use drugs exhibit poorer cognitive performance including deficits in memory, difficulty learning and processing information, and lower IQs. These deficits can make performing everyday tasks more difficult and potentially hinder academic success.
Behavior is also affected by this cognitive impairment. Drug users have lower inhibition and greater impulsivity. Considering adolescents are already prone to high impulsivity and risk taking, using drugs can exacerbate these traits.
These effects last well beyond adolescence. Even if teens only use drugs for a short period of time, the effects of this substance use on their brains, including cognitive deficits, can last well into adulthood. The younger a person starts using substances and the heavier the use, the greater the effects of that use on their brains.