Beyond immediate health and safety consequences and teen pregnancy, one of the greatest concerns with teen drug use and abuse is the risk factors for continued abuse later in life. The younger they start using addictive substances, the greater likelihood that a person will become addicted, according to a study by the The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Those who use addictive drugs before age 18 are six times more likely to become addicted later in life than those who begin after age 21.
Over 60% of teens report that drugs of some kind are kept, sold, and used at their school.
Alcohol Abuse Statistics
18.6% of U.S. teens have experimented with alcohol before age 13. The rate is slightly higher among males (20.5%) and slightly lower among females (16.6%). However, by high school, the two sexes even out: in a study of high school students, 34.4% of males and 35.5% of females reported having at least one drink alcohol in the previous 30 days.
For many parents, a larger concern with alcohol is binge-drinking – the consumption of more than 4 drinks in one day for males and more than 3 drinks in one day for females. Binge drinking can lead to the most dangerous health risks of alcohol, can be associated with illicit drug use and can lead to heavy drinking later in life.
For adults, alcohol-related deaths do vary state-by-state, with New Mexico in the lead (51.2 alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 residents).
Additionally, 8.8% of high school seniors (5.9% of females and 11.9% of males) admitted to having used hallucinogenic drugs at least once, and 60% of high school seniors seniors don’t see regular marijuana use as harmful.
Marijuana Use/Perception of Marijuana Use
While it’s still debated whether marijuana causes users to desire other drugs, there is a proven link between marijuana use and hard core drug use – most users of cocaine and heroin began with marijuana. Children and teens need to be wary and cognizant of any drug use- those particularly sensitive to drug addiction may find it easier to transition from marijuana to harder drugs.
Number of Drug Users in the U.S.
Marijuana and alcohol have the highest number of dependent users in the US, with 17.7 million dependent on alcohol and 4.3 million meeting the criteria for marijuana dependence in 2012.
Illicit drug use in the US is on the rise; however this mostly reflects a rise in marijuana use. The use of most other illicit drugs has remained the same or declined in the past decade. Cocaine use in particular has been in decline, dropping from 2.1 to 1.7 million users in the US since 2007.
Most illicit drug users begin as teenagers. Lessons and encouragement of self-control and self-discipline in younger children were linked to less-frequent drug use as teens.