The site for substance use disorder prevention and mental health promotion professionals and volunteers.

Home » Effects of alcohol and cannabis use on youth/adolescent brain development

Effects of alcohol and cannabis use on youth/adolescent brain development


This session will review the current state of knowledge about child and adolescent brain development and implications for pathways to risky behavior, such as substance abuse.  The focus will be on three key areas where science can be our guide.  First, how do social conditions--such as toxic stress associated with adverse childhood experiences--impact brain development and the consequences for future health and behavior?  Second, what remedies have been developed that move us upstream to “turn off the trauma tap” and, in effect, prevent pathways to substance abuse, sexual risk behaviors and HIV infection?  And third, how does the use of substances impact brain architecture and subsequent behavior to further entrench negative pathways. Such knowledge and the best practices prevention science has generated are instructive in guiding us to more effectively target interventions and policy solutions.  In closing, we will discuss some promising trends and ongoing concerns that can be addressed via further investments in prevention.

Event objectives:

  • To understand key aspects of child and adolescent brain development implicated in pathways to substance abuse or protective against negative outcomes.
  • To delineate features of environmental contexts and lived experiences that impact said development.
  • To identify types of interventions and policies that have shown potential to improve developmental trajectories.
  • To know how the use of abusable substances influences brain development and the risk of escalating their use, potentially leading to addiction.

Dr. Diana [aka Denni] Fishbein, is a senior scientist and Director of Translational Neuro-Prevention Research in the FPG Child Development Institute at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.  She is also part-time research faculty at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Fishbein’s research supports the premise that underlying neurobiological mechanisms interact with the quality of our psychosocial experiences and environmental contexts to alter trajectories either towards or away from risk behaviors and that compensatory mechanisms can be strengthened with targeted interventions. She serves in an advisory capacity for federal and state government bodies as well as several universities and organizations.  Given the inherent translational nature of this research, she founded and directs the National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC), a national organization dedicated to the transfer of knowledge from the basic sciences to practices in real-world settings and public health policies.  Through dissemination and advocacy, she actively informs the decision-making of federal and state-level policymakers and agency administrators about the value and utility of prevention science to increase uptake of best practices.

Date and Time: 
March 29, 2023 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm