Marijuana is the most abused illegal substance among youth. By the time they graduate high school, approximately 46% of teens will have tried marijuana at least once.
Substance abuse and problematic patterns of substance use among youth can lead to problems at school, cause or aggravate physical and mental health-related issues, promote poor peer relationships, cause motor-vehicle accidents, and place stress on the family. They can also develop into lifelong issues such as substance dependence, chronic health problems, and social and financial consequences.1
Substance abuse is the harmful pattern of using substances—such as tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drugs—leading to impairment or distress with one or more of the following behaviors:
One of the most highly abused substances among youth in the U.S. is alcohol.3 Youth engage in binge drinking, a pattern of drinking that elevates the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 percent or above, more than adults do.4 This can lead to risky and potentially harmful behaviors, and many times substance abuse (60-75 percent of youth with substance abuse problems) co-occurs with mental health disorders.
Substance use, abuse, and dependence can negatively impact every aspect of an individual’s life. Child-serving systems need to intervene early in the lives of youth to prevent or treat abuse, support young people, and provide them with the tools to choose the right path.
1 Department of Justice, 1998
2 American Psychiatric Association, 2000
3 Johnston, O’Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2012
4 For the typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming five or more drinks [men], or four or more drinks [women], in about 2 hours.
Pilot Project Helps YouthBuild Address Youth Substance Abuse
One of the biggest challenges at most YouthBuild employment and training programs funded by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is how to identify and address alcohol and drug use among students.
Traffic Safety: Keeping Teens Safe behind the Wheel
Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death among youth. Per miles driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.
Strengthening Families to Prevent Teen Drug Use
Experts say one way to prevent young people from using drugs is to strengthen family relationships, so that youth develop an open and trusting relationship with parents.
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