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Teenagers Overview

It’s like from Murphy’s Law – we are most prone to experimentation and risk taking at a time in our lives when we are at greatest risk from these actions! Adolescent brains are not yet fully developed, and abusing drugs or alcohol during this period can result in lasting neural changes. Teens that use drugs or alcohol are at a much higher risk of addiction than adults; and parents who can keep teens from using drugs or alcohol until the age of 21 virtually eliminate the risks of addiction for a lifetime. Find out how to keep your teen safe from drugs and alcohol and learn the warning signs of early experimentation – and learn what kinds of treatment work to help those already in trouble get better.

The adolescent years are a time of boundary pushing and experimentation – it’s normal and healthy behavior in a journey to emotional adulthood.

This period of risk taking, however, occurs before the brain has fully developed, and so teens aren’t yet fully able to effectively weigh the likely benefits of an action against the possible consequences – and when it comes to drug and alcohol use, this can have serious consequences during a time in life that’s hard enough as it is!

More than half of American teens get drunk and nearly half admit to having used marijuana.

Drugs and alcohol are a part of the adolescent experience - whether parents like it or not - and it’s up to parents to teach kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol and to stay involved throughout the teen years; ready to spot substance use and abuse and to intervene at the first signs of trouble.

Teen Drug Use Statistics

The results from the latest Monitoring the Future Study of teen drug and alcohol use and attitudes out of Michigan University provides a pretty good overview of the current adolescent drug use situation in American.

According to the 2009 study:

  • 72.3% of high school seniors and 36.6% of eighth graders have used alcohol at least once
  • 56.5% of high school seniors have been drunk at least once
  • 42% of high school seniors and 16% of eighth graders have used marijuana at least once
  • 6.5% of high school seniors have used ecstasy at least once
  • 6% of high school seniors have used cocaine at least once
  • 13.2% of high seniors have used an opiate other than heroin (OxyContin, Vicodin, etc.) at least once
  • 10% of high school seniors have used amphetamines at least once1

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2008, 1.9 million teens aged 12-17 (7.8% of all teens) needed treatment for a drug or alcohol problem. Of these 1.9 million, only 143 000 received treatment at an appropriate facility.

 93% of teens needing treatment for an alcohol or drug problem did not get it! 2


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