Teen drug & alcohol abuse facts

Written by james mulcahy
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A high percentage of teens admitted using marijuana and an even higher per cent claimed that they consumed alcohol in the past 12 months, according to a study published by the U.S. Department of Justice. The substance abuse does not stop there; the same study found a number of teens that use cocaine, sedatives and even heroin. It's important to talk to your teen about alcohol and drug use, as some substance abuse problems can be fatal.

Prevalence of Teen Drug Use

The 2008 study found substantial drug use among high school seniors. Of the seniors surveyed, 32.4 per cent admitted using marijuana in the last 12 months and 19.4 per cent admitted using it in the past 30 days. The study found 4.4 per cent of high school seniors admitted to using cocaine in the past 12 months, while 1.9 per cent admitted using it in the past month. Sedatives were used by 5.8 per cent of seniors while heroin was used by 7 per cent in the past 12 months.

Teen Drinking

The study also found that 65.5 per cent of high school seniors admitted consuming alcohol in the past year with 43.1 per cent admitting to drinking in the past month.

Dangers of Drinking and Drug Use

A potentially fatal result of this drug and alcohol use occurs when an impaired teen gets behind the wheel. About 5,000 teenagers die each year from underage drinking, many of them in drunk driving accidents, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Teens are new to driving, and their bodies may not be used to drugs and alcohol. These factors mean that teens are involved in a disproportionate number of dangerous road accidents involving substances.

High-Risk Sexual Activities

Drinking and drug use also may affect a teen's sexual behaviour. These substances loosen inhibitions, and the teen may make bad choices when it comes to sex. Sexual encounters without protection can result in the spread of sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration study found that 28.2 per cent of teens drank before their last sexual encounter.

Talk to Your Teen

Talk to your teenager before they have the opportunity to be around drugs and alcohol. Driving while intoxicated and sexual misbehavior are only two of the risks associated with these substances. Addiction, poor academic performance and strains on familial relationships also may occur in a substance-abusing teen's life.

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