Beware the slow, biological adaptation that occurs in your
brain as a result of repeated exposure to mind-altering substances. That was
Erick Lauber’s (Journalism and Public Relations) principle message on February 21 as he presented to a roomfull of high school students at the 2018 Youth
Leadership Conference, hosted by the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol
Commission at the HUB.
“Adolescence is the
highest at-risk population for development of a substance abuse disorder in
part because of heightened neural plasticity,” he explained. “This means the adolescent brain is re-wiring
very heavily, and flooding the system with these outside chemicals will cause a
change at the neural level, resulting eventually in addiction.”
He demonstrated several biological and
psychological concepts with fun dip candy and Hershey’s chocolates. Students were representatives of each of the
high schools in Indiana County.
Lauber is director of Community Health and Leadership at
the MARTI-CBH institute at IUP. He is currently heading the Opioid Prevention
and Community Health Initiative, an outreach effort by MARTI to help the local
community with the heroin/opioid crisis. More information about this
multi-pronged effort can be found on the MARTI website.