Find out what the latest teenage addiction statistics reveal about adolescent drug abuse

Approximately 1.2 million teens had an addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other intoxicating substances in 2015, according to recent surveys on adolescents and drug abuse. Many of those teens were addicted to more than one substance. When teens are addicted to something, they continue using it even though it significantly impairs their life and causes health problems, disability, or failure to meet their responsibilities. Teens who display this addiction pattern are considered to have a substance use disorder or SUD.  When left untreated, teenage drug addiction can develop into a lifelong addiction problem that destroys every aspect of the users’ lives. The latest teenage addiction statistics reveal the extent of the problem facing us today.

Teenage addiction statistics

In 2015, an estimated 5 percent of teens aged 12-17 were addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Statistics survey conducted by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The survey’s statistics on substance abuse disorders among 12 to 17-year-old adolescents paint a revealing portrait of the threat drug addiction poses for adolescents in this country:

  • Alcohol: 623,000 teens were addicted to alcohol in the past year, which represents 2.5 percent of adolescents. This percentage has stayed relatively stable for the past 3 years.
  • Illicit drugs: An estimated 855,000 adolescents or 3.4 percent of teens were addicted to illicit drugs in 2015.
  • Pain relievers (such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and morphine): About 122,000 or 0.5 percent of teens had an addiction to prescription pain relievers
  • Tranquilizers (benzodiazepines including Xanax, Paxil, Valium): Around 0.3 percent of adolescents or 77,000 teens were addicted to prescription tranquilizers
  • Stimulants (such as Adderall, Ritalin): An estimated 38,000 or 0.2 percent of teens had an addiction to prescription stimulants in 2015

Teenage drug abuse statistics

Teens who engage in substance abuse before 18 are eight times more likely to develop an addiction problem in adulthood, according to the American Family Physician. By examining statistics of drug abuse among teens in the eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades in high school, we can see where the greatest opportunities for intervention exist. The Monitoring the Future study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed these teenage drug abuse statistics:

  • Alcohol use among teens is trending downward, with 18 percent of 8th graders, 38 percent of 10th graders, and 56 percent of 12th graders reporting past-year use of alcohol
  • Use of marijuana in the past year decreased for 8th graders (one in every 11) and 10th graders (one in four), but rose among 12th 36 percent of high school seniors used marijuana in the past year
  • Daily use of marijuana was higher than daily use of cigarettes among 10th and 12th graders
  • Use of synthetic cathinones (bath salts) increased among 8th graders last year, rising from 0.4 percent in 2015 to 0.9 percent in 2016
  • Prescription stimulant use declined among high school students in 2016, falling to 3.5 percent of 8th, 6.1 percent of 10th, and 6.7 percent of 12th graders
  • Past year use of prescription painkillers decreased in every age group. Of the students who did use prescription painkillers without medical supervision, one in four were using pills that were prescribed for them in the past. This suggests that parents need to closely monitor any prescriptions given to their teenagers

Impact of drug abuse on teenagers

Drug abuse has a devastating impact on every segment of teenagers’ lives. Once you’ve read about teenage addiction statistics, you may be more aware if your teen is showing signs of abuse. Teens who abuse alcohol, drugs, or other substances have higher rates of failing in school, and they have an increased risk of becoming addicted later in life. The poor judgment that accompanies drug use may lead teens into situations that put their lives in danger, such as car crashes, unplanned and unsafe sex, and sharing needles. The best way to minimize the impact of drug abuse on teenagers’ lives is to educate them so they never take that first pill, puff, or huff. Talk to your teens honestly and openly about drug use before it becomes a problem. Keep the lines of communication open. And if you start to notice signs that your teenagers have begun abusing drugs, get them help from a drug addiction treatment center at once. Vigilant parenting provides the best chance of protecting teens from the dangerous consequences of drug abuse now and in the future.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.