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Friday, July 16, 2010

An Average Day In The Life Of American Adolescents

According to results of a survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 508,000 adolescents aged 12-17 in the United States drink alcohol on an average day; 641,000 use illicit drugs; and more than 1 million smoke cigarettes.

The report, which highlights the substance abuse behavior and addiction treatment activities that occur among adolescents on an average day, draws on national surveys conducted and analyzed by SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies. The study, titled A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts Update, presents a stark picture of the daily toll substance abuse takes on America’s youth. Among the report’s major findings is that on any given day during 2008, 563,000 adolescents used marijuana, nearly 37,000 used inhalants, 24,000 used hallucinogens, 16,000 used cocaine and 2,800 used heroin. Essentially, this report is a wakeup call about the extent to which the nation’s youth engage in risky behavior by using
illegal and potentially dangerous substances everyday. It emphasizes that parents, families and people working in the public health and public safety professions can prevent substance abuse and promote emotional health. In the long run, efforts by these individuals can improve health status and lower costs to families, businesses and governments.

The report also sheds light on how many adolescents used illegal substances for the first time. On an average day in 2008, approximately:
  • 7,500 adolescents drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,360 adolescents used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 3,900 adolescents smoked cigarettes for the first time;
  • 3,700 adolescents used marijuana for the first time; and
  • 2,460 used prescription pain relievers nonmedically for the first time;
  • 1,400 used hallucinogens for the first time;
  • 1,310 used inhalants for the first time;
  • 650 used cocaine for the first time;
  • 630 used licit or illicit stimulants nonmedically for the first time;
  • 125 used methamphetamine for the first time; and
  • 95 used heroin for the first time.
In addition, the report also highlights how many people under age 18 were receiving treatment for a substance abuse problem during an average day in 2008. These numbers included:
  • Over 76,000 in outpatient treatment;
  • More than 9,000 in non-hospital residential treatment; and
  • Over 700 in hospital inpatient treatment.
The study showed that in 2008, there were about a quarter of a million drug-related
emergency hospital visits among adolescents of which 170,000 visits involved the use of illicit
drugs, alcohol or intentional misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals. On an average day in 2008:
  • 151 visits involved alcohol;
  • 129 involved marijuana; and
  • 86 involved prescription or nonprescription pain relievers.
Finally, the report notes that there were over 141,00 admissions for adolescents aged 12 to
17 to substance abuse treatment programs nationwide. That means that on an average day, over 370 youth were admitted for treatment, lead by over 260 cases presented with marijuana and 76 with alcohol.

This report was drawn from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Treatment Episode Data Set and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, and the Drug Abuse Warning Network. The report contains many other important facts about adolescent substance abuse, treatment and treatment admissions patterns. The full report is available at:
http://www.oas.samhsa.gov.