Teens and Substance Abuse

When we think of drug use in the teenage years, we tend to think of experimentation, which is not really the case. Although for some teens they are just testing the waters, for many teens the feelings that they get when the experience a high for the first time, holds an excitement a thrill, that they have never experienced before. For some it is an escape and for others, a way to feel good, however altering their consciousness over and over again can prove deadly.

Many teens are unaware of the risks involved with using substances, especially substances that are passed from one teen to the next. Many times they take a drug without even knowing what it will do or how it will affect them. They take the drug merely on the principle that my friend said this was good, I will take it.

The statistics of teen substance abuse are quite alarming. For instance did you know that underage drinking in the US costs us more that $58 billion each year? Or that teens who begin drinking before the age of 13 are more likely to develop alcohol dependency problems later in life? Did you know that 60% of teens said that drugs were sold, used or kept at their school?

Even more alarming than these statistics are the statistics of actual teen drug and alcohol consumption which indicate that as of 2003 about 30% of teens in the 8th grade had tried illicit drugs, about 45% of 10th grade students, and more than 50% of 12th grade students had used some form of drug. And teen alcohol consumption is on the rise as well, with 50% of teens reporting drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, and at least 32% reporting being drunk at some point during the last month.

And although the statistics are scarce at this time, it is believed that the use of illicit drug use among teens is actually on the decline and being replaced by the abuse of prescription drugs by teens. Prescription drugs most commonly abused by teens are prescription pain medications and Ritalin, both of which are readily available to many teens through friends and their own medicine cabinets. It is believed that teens feel using prescription drugs is actual safer than using illicit drugs, however this is just a myth.

Catching substance abuse early on, in the teen years, can make all the difference, as it is easier to combat drug use and abuse early on than it is to address later in life. If you know a teen who is need of help, look into the many rehab programs available for teens, and find a program that is in your area to help them get the help they need right away. These types of problems don’t go away on their own, they take time and treatment.