Substance Abuse Trends Among Teens Over the Past Decade
Each year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducts a National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The results of the 2012 survey have been published and coincide with the September observance of National Recovery Month.
For the most part, the report held good news showing how some worrying trends have begun to reverse. According to the 2012 study, abuse of alcohol, tobacco and even prescription drugs is on the decline.
It is helpful to compare SAMHSA studies over the past decade to get a picture of how substance use is trending among America’s youth. There was good news in terms of certain substances and no progress in either direction in terms of other substances. Here is some of what the 2012 SAMHSA report had to say:
SAMHSA Report On Prescription Drug Abuse
The news on prescription drug abuse was encouraging and showed just how effective increased awareness and minor behavioral changes can be. Just four years ago 6.4 percent of 18 to 25 year olds were abusing prescription medications each month. In 2012 that number had dropped to just 5.3 percent and figures were very similar in 2010 and 2011. Public awareness, tighter controls on medications and targeted treatments all contributed to the improved statistics in this area
Alcohol Use Trend From SAMHSA Report
The SAMHSA report also showed that rates of drinking, even heavy drinking and binge drinking, by 12 to 17 year olds were lower compared to the numbers of teens drinking in 2002 and 2009. In 2002 around 14.2 percent of teens drove while under the influence of alcohol but that figure dropped to 11.1 percent in 2011 and inched up only slightly to 11.2 percent in 2012.
SAMHSA On Tobacco Use
Tobacco use was another bright spot in the report. Just over 15 percent of teens less than 18 years old reported smoking tobacco in 2002 but that dropped precipitously to 8.6 percent in 2012.
Illegal Drug Use From SAMHSA Report
Use of illegal drugs has held pretty much steady in recent years, right at 9 percent. Marijuana has grown in popularity for nearly a decade. In 2007, 5.8 percent of teens reported using marijuana, but in 2012 that number rose to 7.3. There was a slight decline in the number of those reporting marijuana use between 2011 (7.9 percent) and 2012 (7.2 percent) but it remains the most widely used illicit drug among teens.
Rates of drug abuse and drug addiction fell from nine percent in 2002 to six percent in 2012 but there is still so much progress needing to be made. According to SAMHSA estimates, 23 million Americans needed substance abuse treatment in 2012, but only 2.5 million received specialized care. It is important to be energized by the recent successes and redouble efforts to see prevention and intervention programs become the norm.