Arguably, the classic “this is your brain on drugs” ’80s ad campaign was more camp than cure. Still, none of us can forget that sinister egg frying away in it’s black skillet, a simple but visually dramatic warning as well as a call to action. “Just say no. Don’t do drugs.” Sure, of course not. However, what many young people don’t consider is that their brain, after years of continued abuse, won’t just bounce back. Aging is inevitable, but what happens when long term drug abuse is combined with old age? What will that look like in the years to come? We are already aware of the link between alcohol abuse and dementia, but lifetime drug use is another cause for concern among the aging population. Young drug abusers are up to three times more likely to suffer brain damage than those who don’t use drugs, according to research published online by Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh studied the brains of 34 deceased intravenous drug abusers of heroin and methadone and compared them to the brains of 16 young people who were not drug users. Their examination revealed brain damage in the drug abusers – damage that is usually only found in much older people. Damaged nerve cells were found in areas of the brain involved with learning, memory and emotional wellbeing, and were similar to damage found in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.