Skip to content

Adolescent Substance Abuse

Today, young adult substance abuse is an escalating and alarming concern. Teens.Drugabuse.gov provides some of the reasons adolescents start using drugs and alcohol;

  • Peer pressure
  • A desire for the experience
  • Methods of coping 
  • Thrills
  • Risk-Taking

Current Research indicates adolescents account for nearly 10% of all alcohol consumed in the U.S. It also states the earlier a teen begins abusing drugs and or alcohol, the greater the probability it will cause significant problems later in their lives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends screening young people for substance use as early as nine years old.

According to the CDC, the possible developmental risks teens face when they start to use drugs and alcohol include;

  • The growth and development of the brain.
  • Occur more frequently with other risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex and dangerous driving.
  • Contribute to the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.

According to the CDC‘ “In 2017, 60.4% of high school students reported having at least one drink of alcohol, on at least one day during their life.”

When teens drink, alcohol affects their brains in the short term, and repeated drinking can also impact the brain down the road.

Short-Term

  • An intoxicated person has a more challenging time making good decisions.
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Less aware that their behavior may be inappropriate or unsafe
  • A greater risk of being injured from falls or vehicle crashes
  • More likely to engage in dangerous behavior, including drinking and driving, risky sexual behavior (like unprotected sex), and aggressive or violent behavior
  • Less likely to recognize potential danger

Long-Term

Research suggests that drinking during the teen years could interfere with normal brain development. Have adverse effects on information processing and learning. As a result, it increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder later in life.

Statistics

Adolescent drug use statistics;

  • Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are substances most commonly used by adolescents.
  • By 12th grade, about two-thirds of students have tried alcohol.
  • Nearly half of 9th through 12th-grade students reported ever having used marijuana.2
  • About 4 in 10 9th through 12th-grade students said having tried cigarettes.3
  • Among 12th graders, close to 2 in 10 reported using prescription medicine without a prescription.

References

NIH – Underage Drinking
https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm

NIDA for Teens
https://teens.drugabuse.gov/

Teen Substance Use – CDC
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/features/teen-substance-use.html

CDC’s Alcohol Screening
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/fasd/alcohol-screening.html#ref4