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A Day in the Life of Teen Substance Abuse

By June 8, 2010

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If you still think it's not possible for your teen to be involved in substance abuse, you might want to check out the latest figures from a new national survey. On any given day, hundreds of thousands of adolescents are drinking, using illegal drugs and smoking cigarettes, creating a public health challenge.

The survey was sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The study was called, "A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts Update," and is drawn from previous national surveys conducted and analyzed by SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies.

Here are some of the major findings of the study:

An Average Day for American Adolenscents

  • 508,000 drink alcohol.
  • 641,000 use illicit drugs
  • 1,000,000 smoke cigarettes.

On An Average Day in 2008 Teens Used Illegal Drugs

  • 563,000 adolescents used marijuana.
  • 37,000 used inhalants.
  • 24,000 used hallucinogens.
  • 16,000 used cocaine.
  • 2,800 used heroin.

On Any Given Day (in 2008) Teens Use Substances for the First Time

  • Approximately 7,500 adolescents drank alcohol for the first time.
  • Approximately 4,360 adolescents used an illicit drug for the first time.
  • Around 3,900 adolescents smoked cigarettes for the first time.
  • Nearly 3,700 adolescents used marijuana for the first time.
  • Approximately 2,500 adolescents abused pain relievers for the first time.

On an Average Day Adolescents Are in Treatment for Substance Abuse

  • Over 76,000 in outpatient treatment.
  • More than 9,000 in non-hospital residential treatment.
  • Over 700 in hospital inpatient treatment.

On an Average 2008 Day, Teens Visited Emergency Rooms

  • 151 visits involved alcohol.
  • 129 involved marijuana.
  • 86 involved prescription or nonprescription pain relievers.

SAMHSA officials said the new report is a wake-up call about the extent to which today's youth is involved in risky behaviors.

The full report is available online.

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