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Reported drug use among adolescents continued to hold below pre-pandemic levels in 2023 National Institutes of Health NIH

Teenagers in North Dakota are 34.92% less likely to have used drugs in the last month than the average American teen. Teenagers in North Carolina are 2.23% less likely to have used drugs in the last month than the average American teen. Teenagers in New York are 0.25% less likely to have used drugs in the last month than the average American teen.

Teenagers in Georgia are 19.01% less likely to have used drugs in the last month than the average American teen. Teenagers in Florida are 5.50% less likely to have used drugs in the last month than the average American teen. Teenagers in the District of Columbia are 11.94% more likely to have used drugs in the last month than the average American teen. Teenagers in Delaware are 20.71% more likely to have used drugs in the last month than the average American teen.

Publications and Databases

But it’s no secret that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, which was typically delivered by police officers who urged total abstinence, didn’t work. Find out as much as you can about their drug use—what substances they’re using, how often they’re using them, and how they’re getting them. Be clear that the risks of drugs are serious and that drug use will not be tolerated. At the same time, make sure that you reassure your teen that you love them and that you want to help. There are serious health risks to misusing OTC cold and cough products, including increased blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and overdose. There can also be legal issues if a teen is using someone else’s prescriptions.

One in five parents who suspects their teen is using drugs does not intervene to prevent further drug use. Ultimately, taking a step back to keep the larger goals in focus—as well as staying dedicated to prevention and intervention approaches backed by science—is what will help keep young people healthy and safe, Weiner said. “For many young people, when they look at what they allocate to drinking and drug use, relative to these other things that they view as much more important, it’s often very motivating,” Murphy said. If you’re trying to start a conversation with your teen because you think they may be using drugs, their response to being confronted will determine how you’ll need to approach the conversation.

Disease Transmission Risk

The effects of these substances can impair their mental development and increase the likelihood of long-term health problems or diseases. While that approach, which incorporates principles of harm reduction, is not universally accepted, evidence is growing for its ability to protect youth from accidental overdoses and other consequences of substance use, including addiction, justice involvement, and problems at school. Psychologists have been a key part of the effort to create, test, and administer developmentally appropriate, evidence-based programs that approach prevention in a holistic, nonstigmatizing way.

For the 2022 survey, 48% of 12th grade students identified as male, 47% identified as female, 1% identified as other, and 4% selected the “prefer not to answer” option. While they may not express it, teens do value bonds with the adults in their lives. Nurturing that connection with them teen drug abuse includes being involved in their lives and having open, honest communication. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that teens be screened at each annual medical exam appointment with questionnaires that ask them about substance use and their knowledge of the risks.

What percentage of people have abused opioids?

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health found that nearly one in five adolescents report using cigarettes, alcohol, and cannabis, either individually or in combination before the age of 16 (Moss et al., 2014). For clarity, we define co-use as either concurrent, in which multiple substances are used on different occasions, or simultaneous, in which substances are used on the same occasion. During adolescence, it was more common to have used cigarettes, alcohol, and cannabis concurrently than it was to have only used one of the substances individually. The survey also reported the rates of using alcohol and nicotine as 22%; cannabis and nicotine as 21.6%; and alcohol and cannabis as 34.1%. Nearly all research on adolescent substance use (as well as most reviews on the topic) has focused on individual use, but using multiple substances is more common than individual use. This underscores the need for research into the combined effects of substances on adolescent neurodevelopment.

  • However, in adolescents first assessed before initiation of substance use, extreme-binge drinkers exhibited poorer performance in measures of verbal learning and memory despite equivalent performances at baseline (Nguyen-Louie et al., 2016).
  • This year, 11% of the 12th grade students who took the survey identified as African American, 22% as Hispanic, 5% as Asian, 1% as American Indian or Alaska Native, 47% as white, 1% as Middle Eastern, and 14% as more than one of the preceding categories.
  • Very little clinical work has been conducted on the long-term effects of opioids on memory and cognition.
  • Withdrawal typically happens to people who have become addicted or dependent on substances and suddenly stop using them.
  • “It doesn’t have to be either prevention or harm reduction, and we lose really important tools when we say it has to be one or the other,” he said.
  • The survey included questions about current use (defined as using a substance within the month prior to taking the survey) as well as lifetime use.