Statistics on teen drug & alcohol abuse

Updated April 17, 2017

Teenage drinking and drug use is a serious problem. High numbers of teens admitted to drinking, and an even higher number said that it would be fairly easy to find drugs if they desired them. Alcohol and drug use can cause a number of dangerous problems, and may even lead to death. Talk to your teenager about these dangers before it becomes a potentially deadly issue.

Teenage Drinking

A 2005 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 28 per cent of individuals between the ages of 12 and 20 reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in the past month. The same study found that 5.8 per cent of 12- to 17-year olds required treatment for alcohol abuse.

Teenage Drinking and Driving

Because they are new to the road and are not used to the effects of alcohol, teenager drivers are involved in a disproportionate number of drinking and driving accidents. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of teen deaths (ages 15 to 20) and many of these crashes involve teenage drinking. Over 1,600 teens a year die in alcohol related traffic accidents.

Teenage Drug Use

In a 2008 survey, the U.S. Bureau of Justice reported that 32.4 per cent of high school seniors used marijuana in the last 12 months. While marijuana is the drug that had the widest use among teens, other substances also were included. About 4.4 per cent of high school seniors used cocaine in the 12 month period, 6.8 used stimulants and 3.8 used inhalants.

Availability of Drugs

The Bureau of Justice study also found alarming rates of drug availability, indicating that it might be easier for teens to obtain drugs than you think. Approximately 83.9 of high school seniors claimed they could obtain marijuana "fairly or very easily", 47.9 per cent put amphetamines in the easy to get category, and 42.4 per cent thought cocaine would be easy to come by.

Dangers of Teenage Alcohol and Drug Use

In addition to the dangers of abusing substances and getting behind the wheel, drug and alcohol use creates a number of very serious issues. Drug and alcohol use loosens inhibitions and can promote irresponsible sexual behaviour. Regular use can have a negative impact on academic performance and can lead to the deterioration of personal relationships.

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About the Author

James Mulcahy is a New York City-based licensed massage therapist with more than 1,500 hours of training in anatomy, myology and pathology. He currently works as a freelance writer and has contributed to Huffington Post, New York Press, British Airway’s High Life, Metromix and many other publications.