adolescent substance abuseOnce upon a time, drug use by teenagers seemed to be a problem far away from the happy cul-de-sacs of the average American “nuclear” family. Reefer madness might be going on in somebody else’s city, but certainly not here in your own town.

In modern America, however, parents are becoming more and more aware of just how wide-spread adolescent drug use really is, and information from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is helping back this awareness up.

SAMHSA is providing information on just how many teenagers are using drugs on a daily basis, and the figures are shocking.

Some of The Most Common Drugs Abused Are “Legal”

It’s not hard to understand that when you make a drug legal, it’s much easier for anyone (not just teenagers) to get. Even though tobacco and alcohol are only supposed to be purchased by adults of certain ages, teens are using these drugs more often than almost any others.

On a daily basis, 881,684 teenagers 12 to 17 are smoking cigarettes, and 457,672 teenagers are drinking alcohol. This is equivalent to the entire populations of major American cities drinking and smoking every day. It’s not just “other people’s kids”—these are teens in our own backyards and schools. A huge, overlooked problem with this is that even though these drugs are legal, they are actually currently more dangerous in many ways than most of the street drugs circulating in our culture. It may just be a numbers matter that these legal drugs are more dangerous, but tobacco and alcohol are killing far more Americans that heroin or meth.

We can’t ignore these figures or write them off as something normal that teens do. If our young people are setting themselves on a path for future drug addiction, it’s time to do something right away to change their minds. They may think it’s cool to smoke or drink right now, but they might change their minds once their money and health is wasting away on these legal drugs.

Illegal Drug Use Rates

Another drug highly used by teenagers today is marijuana. More teens are actually using weed than the number that are drinking alcohol. The number comes out to 646,707 adolescents using weed every day, the majority smoking the drug as opposed to eating it or using any of the more concentrated forms now available.

An administration of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Pamela S. Hyde had this to say about these drug use rates: “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.”

In addition to the number of teens already using these drugs, thousands more are being introduced to all three classes of these drugs every day. We don’t have to sit back and be okay with these increasing rates, however. Every American can stand up and decide that he or she wants to do something to decrease the number of young people in this country that are using drugs.

Doing Something in Your Community

There are a thousand ways to spread the world and to try to help. Support school initiatives to educate young people about the real consequences of drug use. See if your local police station has any way you can volunteer. Whatever you do, don’t be complacent—these rates can be turned around.

Effective prevention done early and frequently can decrease the number of adolescents abusing drugs.

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