Monday, January 11, 2010

Life-Altering Decisions

Don’t make life-altering decisions until you turn 25.

Because of the high meth production in our community, every local station aired an anti-drug piece simultaneously. The production highlighted the extreme risk to teens that drug exposure poses. They explained that the judgement center of the brain does not fully develop until a person is in their mid-twenties. Drugs target the judgement center of the brain, and so early damage can result in an inability to ever make good decisions. It scolded parents who think that teen years are meant for experimenting with drugs. But persons waiting until their mid-twenties to experiment with drugs have a 0% probability of getting addicted. This is because a 25-year-old weighing the pros and cons of drug use would never conclude that taking drugs is a good idea. A 25-year-old, fully functioning brain would never allow it. The risks are too great to be seriously considered.

When you are a teen, and your decision center of your brain is developing, you rely heavily on input from others when making decisions. Now, this is by design, and your parents have the assignment of guiding you through this process. But, teens who reject parental guidance turn to their friends and an abnormal influence occurs. Nearly all dumb decisions made during this period are blamed on "hanging with the wrong crowd" or "all of my friends were doing it." Peer pressure decreases significantly when you reach your mid-twenties. For me it was like flipping a switch when I was about 25. I simply felt comfortable deciding without consulting anyone else. I was suddenly confident and unaffected by any fear of disappointing my peers. What others thought no longer bothered me.

Think of how many live-altering decisions we might make as teens: drinking at age 21, tobacco use at 18, married at 16. And teens are having sexual contact at earlier and earlier ages. When will you allow your child to date? Perhaps we should stop viewing 18 years as the mark of adulthood.

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