Identifying Early Warning Signs: Addressing Youth Substance Use

Jun 30, 2015
  • Description

Of high school students 35 percent indicate they are current drinkers, 20 percent are binge drinkers, and 24 percent use marijuana. By the time they are seniors more than 20 percent will have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose. Substance use disorders are costly to individuals, families, and communities: binge drinking, substance misuse and addiction leads to negative health and social outcomes, can exacerbate mental health problems, and create challenges being successful in school and in the workplace. It is a key contributing factor to the leading causes of injury and death among teens.

The likelihood of developing a substance use disorder is greatest for those who begin use of alcohol or other drugs in their early teens. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the majority of individuals who become addicted started using before age 18 and developed their disorder by age 20.