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Teenage Drug Abuse

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Every day more youth become dangerously involved with drugs and alcohol, to the point of abuse. Adolescent drug and alcohol abuse occurs in the lives of teenagers regardless of their socio-economic level, how often they go to church or whether their parents are married or divorced. Teenage drug abuse is widespread and getting worse every day. The average age a teenager starts drinking alcohol is 13, with marijuana experimentation beginning at age 14. In almost every city and town nationwide, millions of children are deciding – one child at a time – whether to try drugs. Far too many are choosing poorly.

According to the 2001 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, an estimated 23.6 million teens are in grades seven through 12 in America today. Of them:

11.3 million (48 percent of the teen population) have tried illegal drugs; 
8.7 million (37 percent) have used illegal drugs in the past year; 
5.7 million (24 percent) – nearly one out of every four teens in the nation – have used illegal drugs in the past 30 days.

Here’s a look at which drugs Teenagers are using:

Percentage of teens that have tried different illcit drugs
  • Almost 23 percent of youths perceived that their neighborhoods have a lot of crime; 27 percent perceived a lot of drug selling. 
  • Rates for illicit drug dependence or abuse showed substantial variation by age (Figure 4). The rate for illicit drug dependence or abuse was 0.8 percent at age 12, and rates increased for each successive year of age until the highest rate (8.1 percent) was reached at ages 18 and 19 (data not shown in figure). After age 19, the rates declined in each successively older age group. The rate for persons aged 26 or older was 1.0 percent. The rate for persons aged 18 to 25 was 5.5 percent; the rate for persons aged 12 to 17 was 4.4 percent.
  • Among youths aged 12 to 17, the rate of illicit drug dependence or abuse for males was higher than the rate for females (4.8 vs. 4.1 percent, respectively).
  • Among youths aged 12 to 17, the rates for alcohol dependence or abuse were similar for males (5.2 percent) versus females (5.1 percent).
  • For the youngest age group (12 to 17), an estimated 1.1 million youths (4.6 percent of the population aged 12 to 17) needed treatment for an illicit drug abuse problem. Of this group, only 0.1 million youths (11.4 percent of the 12 to 17 year olds who needed treatment) received treatment, and 1.0 million youths were defined as part of the treatment gap.
  • Youths who received grades of D or below last semester were more likely than those with higher grades to have used cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs during the past month.
  • Youths aged 12 to 17 who reported violent behaviors in the past year reported higher rates of past year illicit drug or alcohol use compared with youths who did not report violent behaviors.
  • In 2000, over 3 million youths aged 12 to 17 used marijuana at least once during the past year.
  • Youths with an average grade of D or below were more than 4 times as likely to have used marijuana in the past year as youths who reported an average grade of A.
  • Almost 25 percent of youths aged 16 or 17 reported past year marijuana use compared with 3 percent of 12 or 13 year olds.Please note that even though some of these warning signs listed below of drug abuse may be present in your teen, it does not mean that they are definitely abusing drugs. There are other causes for some of these behaviors. Even the lifestyle of adolescence is a valid reason for many of them to exist.

Signs in the Home of Teenage Drug Abuse

  • loss of interest in family activities
  • disrespect for family rules
  • withdrawal from responsibilities
  • verbally or physically abusive
  • sudden increase or decrease in appetite
  • disappearance of valuable items or money
  • not coming home on time
  • not telling you where they are going
  • constant excuses for behavior
  • spending a lot of time in their rooms
  • lies about activities
  • finding the following: cigarette rolling papers, pipes, roach clips, small glass vials, plastic baggies, remnants of drugs (seeds, etc.)

Signs at School of Teenage Drug Abuse

  • sudden drop in grades
  • truancy
  • loss of interest in learning
  • sleeping in class
  • poor work performance
  • not doing homework
  • defiant of authority
  • poor attitude towards sports or other extracurricular activities
  • reduced memory and attention span
  • not informing you of teacher meetings, open houses, etc.

Physical and Emotional Signs of Teenage Drug Abuse

Changes friendssmell of alcohol or marijuana on breath or bodyunexplainable mood swings and behaviornegative, argumentative, paranoid or confused, destructive, anxiousover-reacts to criticism acts rebellioussharing few if any of their personal problemsdoesn’t seem as happy as they used to beoverly tired or hyperactivedrastic weight loss or gainunhappy and depressedcheats, stealsalways needs money, or has excessive amounts of moneysloppiness in appearance.

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