How common is drug and alcohol addiction in teens?

Youth drug addiction is a big problem that affects many teens and their families. Approximately 1.8 million youth ages 12 to 17 years need substance abuse treatment, and only 150,000 get the help they need. Over 50 percent of teens who develop a drug addiction have a co-occurring psychiatric condition. This supports the notion that teens who use drugs may be using them as a means to self-medicate and alleviate the symptoms associated with a more severe underlying psychological condition. In order to help these youth, we need to be vigilantly educating our youth about the repercussions associated with substance use. 
David Vittoria, MSW
Addiction Medicine
About 20 percent of teens said they have taken unauthorized doses of someone else’s prescription medicine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Roughly 5 percent of teens admit to abusing over-the-counter cough medicines for recreational purposes, the CDC reports.

One-third of 12 graders reported using an illicit drug during the last year, and at least 20 percent said they smoked marijuana within the last month, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
 
Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Estimates of addiction among adolescents show that for many, the problem starts at an early age. In 2010, one in 10 American youths ages 12 to 17 reported using illicit drugs in the past month. Among people ages 12 and older, about 22.1 million people (8.7% of the total population 12 and older) were classified with a substance use disorder (that is, either dependence or abuse). That number included people abusing alcohol and illicit drugs.

Continue Learning about Substance Abuse In Teens

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.