There are various stages when it comes to drug abuse, and ultimately, it can cause challenges to manage a person’s life. Those who start using drugs or alcohol as teens are at a much higher risk of developing an addiction compared to those who use drugs as an adult. This is because of the immaturity in a teenager’s brain, particularly the portion that controls impulse. 

Substance abuse stems from a number of individual, genetic, family, and social factors instead of a single cause. Although genetics play a role in substance abuse development, addiction is a disease where other factors will influence its outcome. Substance abuse is typically treated based on the level of addiction, which can range from education to intensive residential treatment.

What Drugs Do Teenagers Abuse?

The drugs abused by adults are typically what you’ll find teenagers using. Due to its legality for those over the age of 21 and accessibility, alcohol is the most common drug abused by teenagers. Other common drugs abused by teenagers include:

  • Cannabinoids (hash, marijuana, or wax)
  • Tobacco (cigarettes, vapes, chewing tobacco, cigars)
  • Cold medications (Benadryl, Sudafed, or chlorpheniramine)
  • Inhalants (gasoline, dust off, ammonia)
  • Depressants (barbiturates, benzodiazepines)
  • Stimulants (cocaine, amphetamines, methamphetamine)
  • Opioids (heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone)
  • Hallucinogens (mushrooms or LSD)
  • Dissociative anesthetics (PCP or ketamine)
  • Club drugs (ecstasy)
  • Others (steroids)

What Are The Adolescent Drug Use Statistics?


Tobacco smoking for teens in high school declined in 2014, which is a positive trend since smokers typically start their habit in adolescence, according to survey results released by the Nationwide Monitoring the Future study. Based on the information, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 students in 400 secondary schools showed that the percentage of students who smoked in the previous 30 days had dropped.


Alcohol use among teens has dropped dramatically over the past twenty years, particularly among teens. The 30-day prevalence of alcohol consumption declined in 2014 for high school students. Fortunately, the 12th-grade decline was as statistically significant as the other three grades combined, showing the efforts to combat underage drinking are succeeding. 

Middle school levels of drinking are the lowest levels since the mid-1990s, according to the Nationwide Monitoring the Future study, and among 8th graders, most of which are 13 or 14 years old, the number who have taken more than a “few sips” of alcohol by 8th grade as also fallen by 50 percent since the 90s. 

The prevalence of binge drinking, which is five or more drinks in a row at least once in a two week period, dropped in 2014 to under 20 percent of high school seniors. As with 30-day prevalence, all grades discussed as are their lowest levels since the mid-90s. 

The prevalence of binge drinking for the past two weeks is now at 12 percent, which is down from its peak level of 22 percent, while the disapproval of binge drinking continually trends in the upper grades. The availability of alcohol continues to show declines as well. 

Illicit Drugs

The most commonly abused illicit drug is marijuana. In 2014, the number of students using the drug in the past 12 months declined slightly among senior students, but unchanged from 8th to 10th grade. The percentage indicates that lifetime use of the drug was 20.3 percent, 37.4 percent, and 49.1 percent, meaning half of the senior students in the United States have tried an illicit drug by the time they graduate, and 40 percent have used it in the past year.  

Something else that must be mentioned is that 50 percent of today’s seniors have not tried an illicit drug by the end of high school, according to the principal investigator of the study as mentioned above. 


The usage of marijuana in teens has been trending higher following a decade of steady decline. In 2014, use among the three grades declined. In the past 12 months, annual prevalence decreased from 12.7 percent to 11.7 percent among 8th graders, 29.8 to 27.3 percent among 10th graders, and 36.4 percent to 35.1 percent among high school seniors. 

High school students are starting to lose the belief that regular marijuana use will harm them, and changes in this thought explain why numbers have been trending upward. From 2013 to 2014, the percentage of students who saw marijuana as a significant risk fell from 61 percent to 58.9 percent among 8th graders, 46.5 percent to 45.4 percent among 10th graders, and 39.5 to 36.1 percent among 12th graders. 

Dangerous Effects of Drug Use In Teens

The following are some of the dangerous side effects of drug abuse in teens and young adults:

  • The younger a person is when they start using drugs, the more likely they’ll develop a substance abuse problem, which makes it more likely they’ll relapse after cessation of a substance.
  • Any drug decreases the teen’s ability to pay attention or focus.
  • Teens who use drugs are more likely to experiment and take risks, such as unprotected sex with strangers, putting them at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, rape, pregnancy, or victimization. 
  • Abusing drugs or alcohol can mask other emotional issues, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, or hallucinations. These illnesses can result in death by homicide or suicide.
  • Steroids are associated with impotence in both men and boys, clitoral enlargement in women, stunted growth, heart attacks, baldness, cancer, acne, strokes, liver disease, and infection, such as HIV/AIDS in both sexes.
  • Depending on how the body processes each drug, substance abuse has the potential to affect each of the body’s systems, including heart attack, brain damage, stroke, or halted breathing, which can result in death.

Rehab For Teens

Teenagers and drug use can be severe, and getting them help right away can be the difference between life and death. Like any disease, addiction must be treated; otherwise, it’s going to continue worsening. Fortunately, treatment exists specifically for teenagers to provide them with the help they need. We understand that teenage years are challenging, and finding an empathetic treatment center that understands these problems will be in your best interest. 

Depending on the severity of the addiction, it could mean residential or outpatient treatment. If your teen is struggling with an addiction to potent illicit drugs, the doctors may suggest they live on-site while getting treated. If they’re dealing with a minor addiction to a drug like marijuana, they’ll have the option to live at home while getting help. Only a trained medical professional can make this determination.

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