Teen Drug Use: The Good News & The Bad News

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Teen drug use is on the decline. At least, this is according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This is good news for anyone worried their child is abusing dangerous drugs. Not only do drugs and alcohol harm teenagers’ developing brains, but they also make them much more likely to become addicted.

Teen Drug Use: The Good News & The Bad News

The report by SAMHSA surveyed the drug use tends and statistics of 70,000 people ages 12 and up. It covered the period from 2002 to 2013. Compared to 2002, SAMHSA found that:

  • The rate of teen drug dependence and abuse declined from 8.9% to 5.2%
  • Overall teen drug use declined from 12% in 2002 to 9.5% in 2012, then to 9% in 2013
  • Teen alcohol use declined from 13% to 11.6%
  • Teen binge drinking (5 or more drinks in less than 2 hours) declined from 7% to 6%
  • The number of teens who admitted to driving drunk declined from 14% to 11%
  • Teen tobacco use declined from 15% to 8%

The Good News on Teen Drug Use

The good news is this decrease in teen drug use, substance abuse, and drug/alcohol-related problems. Even more good news is why SAMHSA thinks teenage substance abuse has decreased: drug and alcohol interventions, education programs, and substance abuse treatment. These efforts have especially focused on teens since the rise of painkiller addiction and synthetic drugs such as “bath salts”.

The Bad News on Teen Drug Use

Could there be any bad news? Unfortunately, about 25 million teens still use and/or abuse drugs on a regular basis. Teen marijuana use has also increased from 6% in 2007 to 7.5% today. Cocaine, heroin, and painkiller addiction also have not changed much. Because they are even more powerful addictions, they cannot be remedied as easily as education. The history of painkiller abuse demonstrates that addicts will only get worse rather than better if they don’t receive treatment.

In the end, much progress has been made on teen substance abuse. However, much also remains to be done. As long as there is a single teen struggling with addiction, Recovery Hub will always be there to help.

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