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Teen Drug Abuse: Less Alcohol, More Vaping & Pot

Today, young adult substance abuse is an escalating and alarming concern. 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.


  • 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


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.


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.
  • About 4 in 10 9th through 12th-grade students said having tried cigarettes.
  • Among 12th graders, close to 2 in 10 reported using prescription medicine without a prescription.

Teenage substance abusers have several options when seeking drug or alcohol misuse treatment. 

Being the parent of a teenager is not easy. It is challenging if the teenager is using drugs and or alcohol. Al-Anon is a free, worldwide, non-profit organization to help parents cope with stress.

Vaping, Inhalant and Marijuana Use Among Young Adults

A 2017 National Institutes of Health Monitoring survey found marijuana and vaping are more prevalent among adolescents than cigarette smoking or pain pill abuse. Statistics culled from this survey include:

  • 30 percent of 12 graders say they have used vaping devices in the past year.
  • Some report using marijuana or hash oil instead of flavored nicotine fluid in their vaping devices
  • Marijuana use among teenagers increased slightly in 2017 to nearly 24 percent from the 22.6 percent reported in 2016
  • Inhalants like glue, aerosols, and paint to get high are more popular among younger teens than older teens. In 2016, nearly 4 percent of 13-14-year-olds said they have abused inhalants at least once
  • More 17-18-year-olds are now using pot daily than smoking cigarettes.

According to a recent report conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, the percentage of adolescents using pot has increased more than teen smoking and other drug use.

Professor Richard Miech of the University of Michigan and author of this study, says, “as teens see less of a health or addiction risk using marijuana, the faster the prevalence of smoking or vaping marijuana increases.” Miech goes on to state that “among teens, the perceived risk of smoking pot is at its lowest level since the 1970s”.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Teens and young adults (12 to 20 years old) drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the U.S.
  • Over 90 percent of alcohol abuse by teens is during binge drinking episodes.
  • On average, teenagers consume more alcoholic drinks per drinking episode than adults.

When teenagers talk about their drinking behavior over the past 30 days, 30 percent of them said they drank “some” alcohol, 14 percent said they binge, and six percent said they got behind the wheel after drinking.

report issued by the Department of Health and Human Services about teenage drug use found:

  • 39 percent of high school students say that they have used pot at least once
  • Seven percent have sniffed glue, inhaled aerosol spray, or inhaled paint to get high at least once
  • Five percent of high school students report using cocaine, freebase, or crack at least once
  • Another Five percent of high school students have used prescription pain pills for non-medical purposes over the past year.

Rehab Treatment & Recovery

The most effective rehab treatment for teens with an alcohol or drug addiction is a residential treatment center providing 24/7 therapy in a safe, structured environment. Teens living temporarily at residential treatment centers live with other teens who suffer from substance addiction. Individual therapy, group therapy, pharmacological interventions, and holistic types of treatment are just some of the evidence-based treatment modalities used by addiction therapists working at teen residential centers.

Childhood trauma causing drug abuse

Read all about huffing inhalants.

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