High school students often start to explore the world around them. Many start driving and may start working, all while attending classes and making social connections. During this time of exploration, many also start experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Here are a few statistics from the CDC that may be surprising:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also completed studies on adolescent drug and alcohol abuse, revealing that:
Alcohol use and abuse are particularly important subjects to address with teens since they can easily lead to risky behaviors. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teen death in the United States and alcohol is involved in 28% of all traffic accidents, racking up a tremendous toll in human life each year.
Adolescents are often considered an at-risk population because experimentation can be seen as a rite of passage. New adults may offer alcohol to their younger siblings or friends, and parties may include alcohol or other drugs. Studies show that early alcohol or drug abuse can more easily lead to addiction and may make it more difficult to live sober later in life.
Teens may start using drugs or alcohol recreationally, but recreational use can rapidly transform into habitual use. A variety of mental and emotional conditions may play a role in developing an addiction, including examples like:
Starting at a new school might trigger feelings of isolation and depression, and chronic pain can become a bridge to addiction. The earlier a student starts using illicit drugs or drinking regularly, the more likely they are to develop a tolerance, which can later lead to addiction.
For adolescents, and anyone facing addiction, the consequences can be devastating and life-long. Drug and alcohol use in teens can cause permanent changes to body chemistry and brain development, actually causing mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders. Other issues that may go hand-in-hand with teen drug use might include jail time and other risky behaviors that can result in STDs or unwanted pregnancy.
Prevention is often a good starting point for battling addiction, but even with regular prevention strategies, half of all adolescents will try an illicit drug or drink alcohol. Below are some resources to help parents know when there is a problem and find help for their teens.
Students may also recognize that they have a problem and look for help. Treatment programs can be difficult to obtain, and it is important to make resources readily available. Here are a few options developed specifically for teens in crisis.