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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Teenage Substance Use is Far Reaching

In the United States the average person is exposed to mind altering substances in one form or another at a young age. More than half of the estimated 20 million alcoholics in America began drinking as a teenager, reports CBS News. In fact, most young Americans have experimented with drugs and alcohol by the time they have reached late adolescence, according to a new study.

A representative sample of 10,123 teens between the ages of 13 to 18 was looked at by researchers. They inquired about the teens drinking and drug habits in person, and then compared the findings to lifetime estimates of substance abuse. Sadly, 15 percent of the teens met the qualifications for lifetime alcohol abuse, and 16 percent could be considered drug abusers.

The research showed that:
  • 81 percent had the opportunity to use illicit substances.
  • 42.5 percent had used drugs.
  • 78 percent had drank alcohol.
  • 47 percent consumed 12 or more drinks in the past year.
In the report, researchers wrote that, "Because the early onset of substance use is a significant predictor of substance use behavior and disorders in a lifespan, the public health implications of the current findings are far reaching.”

What’s more, teenagers can begin drinking alcohol as early as 12-years old, and the average age teens begin smoking marijuana is 14, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.  

The study was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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