For many of you, this lesson may have been complex. However, its aim was to provide evidence that substance use disorders are complex diseases of the brain. The biology of these diseases is influenced and mitigated by genetics and the environment. However, the neuroplasticity of the brain also ensures that treatment is possible.
A key consideration in this lesson, which we will build on in subsequent ones, was the particular vulnerability of adolescence to substance use disorders, at least in part due to their developing brains.
While this lesson focused on biology, particularly brain biology, the interaction with the psycho-social environment as both a protective and risk factor was identified as being important to the onset and continuation of substance use. This multi-factorial framework is crucial because while we cannot do anything about the genes we inherit, we can change the environmental factors that, along with genes, are necessary to developing a substance use disorder. We will further explore these concepts in subsequent lessons.