Substance Abuse: Teens & Young Adults
Now the bad news:
- 20% of 12th graders smokes cigarettes daily (with white youth leading the charge);
- approximately 50% of white and Hispanic 12th graders used alcohol in the past 30 days (with 3 out of 5 12th graders who drink reporting binge drinking); and
- initiation of substance abuse occurs between grades 7 and 10.
The most disturbing trend reported was the dramatic increase in the use of MDMA or "ecstasy," which doubled among 12th graders between 1996 and 2001 (from 4.6% to 9.2%). The data also reflect what psychologists and researchers have known for a very long time - the kids who are drinking and smoking cigarettes are also the most likely to be using illicit drugs.
This information should tell us all that this would not be the right time to reduce the amount of health education in schools or families. The message about smoking, drug use, and alcohol use is obviously not getting to many teens. Every parent needs to talk to their kids and encourage them to avoid trying cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs.
Photo credit: permanently scatterbrained