A Shocking Number of Teens Drink Alcohol, Use Pills or Smoke Tobacco or Marijuana Daily

Another frightening fact about teenagers and alcohol.  "On an average day, 881,684 teenagers aged 12 to 17 smoked cigarettes, according to a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report also says that on an average day 646,707 adolescents smoked marijuana and 457,672 drank alcohol," according to newswise.com.

To put this in (terrifying) perspective: the number of adolescents using marijuana on an average day "could almost fill the Indianapolis Speedway (seating capacity 250,000 seats) two and a half times," the Web site reports.


"This data about adolescents sheds new light on how deeply substance use pervades the lives of many young people and their families," newswise.com quotes SAMHSA administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “While other studies indicate that significant progress has been made in lowering the levels of some forms of substance use among adolescents in the past decade, this report shows that far too many young people are still at risk."

Here are some more not-so-pretty facts.  On an average day:

  • 7,639 drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,594 used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 4,000 adolescents used marijuana for the first time;
  • 3,701 smoked cigarettes for the first time; and
  • 2,151 misused prescription pain relievers for the first time.
How's that for scary?

Ready for more?
  • Over 71,000 are in outpatient treatment,
  • More than 9,302 are in non-hospital residential treatment, and 
  • Over 1,258 are in hospital inpatient treatment.
On an average day in the ER:
  •  Marijuana is involved in 165 visits, 
  •  Alcohol is involved in 187 visits, and
  •  Misuse of prescription or nonprescription pain relievers is implicated in 74 visits.
Does this make you want to run to your fridge or shelves where you store alcohol or cigarettes and toss them all?  Or your medicine cabinet and throw out the pills?  We won't even go into marijuana.

I had no idea this was going on.  I, like most parents, think I'll never have a problem with alcohol or drugs (you probably know I have a 12-year-old son).  But too many of us (and it could well be me) assume the same thing.  I think of my cousin, 15 years old at the time, who kept her liquor in her shampoo bottle.  She became pregnant that same year, with a child who turned out to have Down Syndrome, a situation she was totally and completely unprepared for.

Could you blame it on the alcohol?  Who knows?  But if she'd been sober, she might have thought a little more clearly.   


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