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Adolescent Alcohol and Marijuana Abuse

by James Heller 16. April 2009 13:49
April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

A lot can be learned using sets of data.  The data below is from a 2007 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  

Trends in adolescent alcohol and marijuana abuse have remained steady for about a decade, and alcohol use rates have always been higher than marijuana.  However, looking at the data below, significantly more teens enter adolescent alcohol and drug treatment claiming marijuana as the problem substance.  

Although a moderate amount of marijuana treatment admissions are imposed by law enforcement for illegal possession, they don’t account for the entire difference.  From this, one might conclude that alcohol is being overlooked as a factor in adolescent substance abuse.  

With all that is known about alcohol’s effects on adolescent brain development, there needs to be more attention paid to teen alcohol abuse.  Parents should research adolescent alcohol treatment even if their child engages in occasional binge drinking.

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According to the 2006 NSDUH, more than 8 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the past year, nearly 5 million used an illicit drug, and more than 4 million smoked cigarettes. In addition, on an average day during the past year, adolescents aged 12 to 17 used the following substances:

  • 1,245,240 smoked cigarettes;
  • 630,539 drank alcohol;
  • 586,454 used marijuana;
  • 49,263 used inhalants;
  • 26,645 used hallucinogens;
  • 13,125 used cocaine; and
  • 3,753 used heroin.

The 2006 NSDUH also indicates that:

  •  adolescents who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 4.7 drinks per day on the days they drank; and
  •  adolescents who smoked cigarettes in the past month smoked an average of 4.6 cigarettes per day on the days they smoked.

TEDS reported that in 2005 there were 142,646 admissions for adolescents aged 12 to 17 to substance abuse treatment programs (TEDS data come primarily from facilities that receive some public funding). TEDS also indicates that on an average day in 2005, adolescent admissions to treatment presented with the following substances as the primary substance of abuse:

  • 255 with marijuana;
  • 72 with alcohol;
  • 24 with stimulants;
  • 10 with cocaine;
  • 7 with opiates; and
  • 7 with other drugs.

-- Source: http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k7/youthFacts/youth.htm --

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.