How college students can end up in vicious cycle of substance abuse, poor academics, stress -- ScienceDailyBegdache said that "it is important for young adults to recognize that one behavior may lead to a domino effect. For instance, using drugs recreationally, abusing alcohol or using "study" drugs not only affects brain chemistry but may affect diet and sleep, which may further alter brain function and brain maturity. Reduced brain maturity increases impulsivity, reduces emotional control and cognitive functions as well as GPA, eventually increasing mental distress with a potential long-lasting effect," said Begdache. "Brain maturity is a window of time and negative stimuli leave a permanent mark. Higher impulsivity and increased mental distress further support drug use, and a vicious cycle sets in. Luckily, we also identified a virtuous cycle; when young adults follow a healthy lifestyle (diet, sleep and exercise), they are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol, which supports a normal brain maturity, which is then reflected in a higher GPA and responsible attitudes toward learning, work and family. These vicious or virtuous cycles have a long-lasting effect on brain function, so it is crucial that young adults are aware of the potential harm or benefits of their own actions."