Despite numerous campaigns and many attempts at public education about substance abuse a typical day in the life of many teens includes cigarette smoking, marijuana use, and/or alcohol consumption. A report released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows on an average day almost 1 million of US teenagers aged 12 to 17 smoke cigarettes, 650,000 smoke marijuana, and slightly less than 500,000 consume alcohol.
The SAMHSA report should be a red flag for most parents of teenagers and community advocates. In 2011 the report states that there were an estimated 21.5 million adolescents in the United States age 12- 17. The report states that, “In the past year, more than one quarter of adolescents drank alcohol, approximately one fifth used an illicit drug, and almost one eighth smoked cigarettes. Although the percentage of adolescents using alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs declined between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of persons aged 12 to 17 receiving substance abuse treatment remained relatively stable. In addition, the number of adolescents seen in an emergency department (ED) for the use of illicit drugs and the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals remained stable from 2004 to 2011.
According to combined 2010 and 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data, in the past year, nearly 7 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol, nearly 5 million used an illicit drug, and 3 million smoked cigarettes. The report goes on the state that,”in 2011 there were about 280,000 drug-related ED visits by adolescents aged 12 to 17, of which 181,005 visits involved the use of illicit drugs, alcohol, or intentional misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals (e.g., prescription medicines, over-the-counter remedies, and dietary supplements). The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that on a typical day in 2011, there were 777 drug-related ED visits for adolescents aged 12 to 17, of which 496 involved the use of illegal drugs or the misuse or abuse of pharmaceuticals.”
The data which has been released illustrates that substance abuse is still a problem for many teens and their families. While it is evident that progress is being made in preventing substance abuse the report shows that there is still a large group of young people at risk