Statistics and facts:

  • Young brains are more vulnerable to drugs and alcohol. Research shows that the human brain doesn’t fully develop until 25 and drugs and alcohol can alter this development, potentially affecting brain structure and function. (source)
  • Accidental drug overdose is currently the leading cause of death in the United States for those under 50 years old. Drug overdose deaths now exceed those attributable to firearms, car accidents, homicides, or HIV/AIDS. More Americans died from a drug overdose in 2017 alone than died in the entire Vietnam War. (Drug Policy Alliance)
  • In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses, making it a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. Of those deaths, almost 68% involved a prescription or illicit opioid. (CDC)
  • According to results from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (source), among high school students surveyed, during the past month 30% drank some alcohol, 14% binge drank, 6% drove after drinking, and 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking. (CDC source)
  • According to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 74 percent of adults participating in a substance abuse treatment program started using alcohol or drugs before the age of 17.
  • 61% of high school students have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, 23% have consumed alcohol by 8th grade, 46% of 12th graders have been drunk at least once in their life, and 9% of 8th graders have been drunk at least once in their life. (source)
  • 86% of teenagers know someone who smokes, drinks or uses drugs during the school day. (source)
  • 50% of teenagers who have misused a drug at least once in their lifetime. (source)
  • According to the CDC, alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are substances most commonly used by adolescents. By 12th grade, about two-thirds of students have tried alcohol. About half of 9th through 12th grade students reported ever having used marijuana. About 4 in 10 9th through 12th grade students reported having tried cigarettes. Among 12th graders, close to 2 in 10 reported using prescription medicine without a prescription. (source)
  • More than three million U.S. high school students—20.8%—use e-cigarettes, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2011, only 1.5 percent of high school students (220,000) vaped, according to HealthDay. (source)
  • Using marijuana at least once a week can lead to cognitive decline, poor attention and memory and decreased IQ in teens and young adults, according to researchers at the American Psychological Association annual meeting. Krista Lisdahl, Director of the Brain Imaging and Neuropsychology Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, noted that 6.5%t of high school seniors reported smoking marijuana daily, up from 2.4% in 1993. Lisdahl noted that brain imaging studies of regular marijuana users have shown significant changes in their brain structure, especially among teenagers. USA Today reports Lisdahl said abnormalities in the brain’s gray matter, which is associated with intelligence, have been found in 16- to 19-year-olds who increased their marijuana use in the past year. (source)

Resources:

  • “Should You Drug Test Your Child?” Partnership for Drugfree Kids (source)
  • Prepare to Take Action if You Suspect Teen or Young Adult Drug Use (source)
  • Teenage Drug Abuse and Addiction (source)
  • Get One-on-One Help to Address Your Child’s Substance Use (source)
  • High-Risk Substance Use Among Youth (source)
  • Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse (source)
  • Teen Drug Abuse Facts (source)
  • Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research Based Guide (source)