Placing blame for the growing problem of teen drug abuse differs from one expert to another. Some may blame it on confusing messages when drugs like marijuana are made legal. Some may blame it on popular media which normalizes drug use. Still others may blame it on overscheduled families. Blame can be on a thousand different causes, but wherever you think the blame may lie, the issue of teen drug abuse in our country is very real. The U.S. government says that addiction to tobacco, alcohol and drugs is the number one mental health concern among teens today.
From marijuana to prescription drugs to designer drugs and illegal ‘hard’ drugs, teens are abusing substances at an alarming rate. The following figures should give parents and concerned adults a picture of just how serious the problem is. And the figures do not even include alcohol abuse which is also a major problem among our youth.
According To The National Institute On Drug Abuse:
- Prescription drugs will kill more teenagers than cocaine and heroin added together
- Better than 60 percent of teenagers say that they have seen drugs stored, used or sold at their school
- Bath salts and synthetic marijuana are man-made drugs which are illegal, highly addictive and incredibly dangerous, yet one out of every nine high school seniors says they have tried synthetic marijuana and 1.3 percent have tried bath salts
- If a teen uses alcohol they face a 50 fold greater chance of also using cocaine compared to teens who abstain from alcohol
- 15 percent of seniors in high school abused prescription drugs in 2012 despite the fact that 35 percent of them see it as risky
- Close to one-third (28 percent) of teens personally know someone who has used ecstasy and 17 percent know more than one person who has done so
- The drug Adderall, used to treat symptoms of ADHD, is being abused by 12th graders more than ever (5.4percent abused in 2009 compared to 7.6 who abuse today) while just 35 percent of seniors think that occasional use of Adderall is risky
- Close to 30 percent of 8th graders have already tried alcohol, 15.5 percent have already smoked a cigarette and another 15 percent have tried marijuana
The problem of prescription drug abuse is particularly high among teenagers so in 2012 an effort called The Medicine Abuse Project was launched intending to keep 500,000 teens from deciding to abuse medications over the next several years.
According To The Medicine Abuse Project:
- More than 2,000 kids abuse a medication for the first time every day
- The overwhelming majority (90 percent) of addictions begin during adolescence
- One out of every six teenagers has taken a prescription medication to alter their mood or get high
- Close to half (44percent) of teenagers know at least one person who has abused prescription medication
- Teenagers have no trouble getting their hands on prescription medications and the majority (65 percent) get them either from home or a friend while 31 percent get them from school and 30 percent get them from another person
- Someone in the U.S. dies every 19 minutes due to drug overdose
- Drug overdoses kill more Americans than automobile accidents and the greatest overdoes threat comes from abuse of prescription pain relievers
Parent’s Discussions With Teens And Drug Use Risks – Very Influential
Parents are not as aware as they think they are when it comes to their teenager and drugs. Just six percent of teen parents say that their own child has abused prescription medications while 10 percent of teens confess to abusing them during the last six months. However, when a parent has regular discussions with their teen about the risks of drug use, the chances that the teen will use them goes down by a whopping 42 percent. Sadly, only 25 percent of teens report having had mom or dad ever sit down for that kind of discussion.
Read More About Common Substances Teens Use