Teen Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Teen Drug and Alcohol Addiction: Tips for Parents

In 2021, teen drug abuse percentages saw the most significant drop in 46 years. Only 32% of 12th-grade students reported drug use in 2021. Compare that to over 40% of students who reported drug use in 2011.

Being a parent of a teen suffering from addiction is scary and confusing. We are here to help you navigate this challenge with our top tips for parents of addicted teens.

In this guide, we will present crucial statistics about teen addiction. We will discuss some facts and misconceptions to help you better relate to your child. Most importantly, we will review tips and resources when it is time to enroll your teen in a rehab facility.

Read on to learn more.

Teen Drug and Alcohol Abuse Stats You Need to Know

  • Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among teens in America
  • In 2021, 17.2% of 8th-grade students, 28.5%% of 10th-grade students, and 46.5% of 12th-grade students reported using alcohol in the past year
  • The second-most commonly used substance among teens in the USA is cannabis
  • In 2021, 7.1% of 8th-grade students, 17.3% of 10th-grade students, and 30.5% of 12th-grade students reported using cannabis in the past year
  • Teens are more likely to use cannabis or alcohol than tobacco products
  • In 2021, 4.6% of 8th-grade students, 5.1% of 10th-grade students, and 7.2% of 12th-grade students reported using an illegal drug other than cannabis in the past year

Teen Overdoses

  • Despite a decline in drug abuse in 2021, the rate of teen overdoses doubled in 2020, and increased another 20% in Q1 and Q2 of 2021
  • In 2010, 2.4 per 100,000 teens died from a drug overdose, but in 2020, that rate increased to 4.57 per 100,000 teens and 5.49 per 100,000 teens in Q1 and Q2 of 2021
  • Teen drug overdoses are more common among Native American/Alaskan Native teens than Black, Latin, and white teens
  • Black teens have the lowest rates of teen drug overdoses in the US, followed by Latin teens

Teen Substance Use Disorders

  • Experts estimate that 12% of 18-year-olds have symptoms that correlate with a severe substance use disorder (SUD)
  • Teens who have severe SUDs are more likely to misuse prescription medication as adults
  • Teens who have severe SUDs are also more likely to misuse alcohol, cannabis, and other drugs as adults
  • Teens who have SUD symptoms are more likely to receive prescriptions for anxiety as adults (i.e., opioids, benzodiazepines, etc.)

Teen Mental Health Disorders and Addiction

  • 8.9 million teens suffer from a mental health disorder
  • 2 in 5 teens do not receive treatment for a mental illness
  • 5.1 million teens suffer from a substance use disorder, and 9 in 10 will not seek treatment
  • Around 50% of teens who have untreated mental health disorders will end up with a substance use disorder in their lifetime
  • Substance use increases the risk of suicide in teens who suffer from depression
  • 50% of people who ultimately develop schizophrenia have a history of drug or alcohol use

Myths and Facts About Addicted Teens

A lot of information is floating around about adolescent drug and alcohol use and abuse. It’s hard to figure out what is and is not accurate. We are here to help.

Next, we will break down some of the top myths and facts about teenage substance use disorders.

Myth: Parents Are to Blame for Teen Addiction

Parenting may contribute to addiction, but it is not the only factor resulting in the development of a substance use disorder.

Addiction is a complicated phenomenon. It happens due to various factors, including genes, social influences, mental health conditions, and socioeconomic status.

Fact: Parents Are the Solution to Their Teens’ Addictions

You are not the reason your child developed an addiction, but you are one of the only people who can get them on a path to recovery.

Research shows that promoting family bonds is the most effective way to treat substance abuse in teens. A compassionate and supportive home life can make all the difference. When that is not enough, it is also up to you to present treatment options to your teen and encourage them to seek recovery.

Myth: Kicking Out Addicted Teens Is the Only Solution

Dealing with a teen addict is heartbreaking. Many parents resort to harsh solutions to protect other family members and themselves.

Unfortunately, these efforts can do more harm than good. Kicking your teen out of the house could exacerbate the problem and lead them into a deeper addiction.

Fact: Showing Addicted Teens Your Care Is Critical

Research shows that teens with strong parental bonds are at a lower risk of using drugs. The same is true for families who have an open dialogue about the dangers of drugs and alcohol with their teens.

These conversations show your teen that you are not trying to stop them from having “fun” but rather that you love them dearly and care about their health and safety. Knowledge is power, and you are the number one educator in your child’s life. Become proactive and reap the rewards.

Myth: Teenage Drug and Alcohol Use Is Just a Phase

People often say drug and alcohol abuse is “just a phase” with teens. That is a dangerous and possibly life-threatening misconception. Sometimes teens or young adults can grow out of the phase, but research shows this is uncommon. As shown in the above data, addicted teens often become addicted adults. It is your responsibility to try and curb that potentially fatal future.

Fact: Teen Addicts Can Become Addicts for Life

Teens with substance use disorders are more likely to become addicted adults. It is critical to address your teen’s addiction as soon as possible. Early intervention is the greatest tool to ensure a bright future for your child.

To learn more tips to prevent your child from abusing drugs or alcohol as a teen, check out this guide.

When Is it Time to Get Help for Your Teen?

Occasional drug and alcohol use is not always a reason for major concern. But how do you know when your child’s infrequent substance develops into abuse or a substance use disorder?

Read on to learn more.

Watch for Signs of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol is the easiest drug to identify potential teen abuse. Alcohol has a strong scent, and most people know the characteristics of someone under its influence. Additionally, if extra bottles or cans are in your trash, it is easy to determine who threw them out.

Cannabis abuse is also relatively easy to spot. There are distinct smells and physical symptoms like bloodshot eyes and increased appetite. Some people who use cannabis can become withdrawn, exhibit secretive behavior, and may lose interest in hobbies they once enjoyed.

You can find additional information about the various physical and behavioral symptoms of substance use disorder here.

Talk to Your Teen About Their Substance Use

Communication is the first step in addressing drug or alcohol abuse with your teen. It is important to remain calm and compassionate. This is an excellent opportunity to readdress the boundaries and rules of the house. Explain the expectations you hold for your teen.

Lastly, explain to your teen what the consequences are if they break your rules. Again, avoid any harsh stances like threatening homelessness. Try to devise a solution that will benefit you and your child without alienating them further.

Seek Treatment for Your Teen at an Arlington Rehab Center

You may do all the right things to support your child and still have them continue their drug or alcohol abuse. What now? It may be time to seek treatment for your teen at a local rehabilitation center.

Rehab centers are equipped to treat substance use disorders in adults and teens. These facilities can also provide treatment for trauma and underlying mental health conditions.

At Sunshine Care Centers, we offer addiction and trauma counseling to assist parents of teen addicts. We know the toll teen addiction can take on you and your child. We are here to help whenever you both are ready.

Get Help for Teen Drug and Alcohol Addiction

As we’ve shown, teen drug and alcohol addiction is pervasive, serious, and sometimes deadly. Your child’s choices today will impact their relationship with drugs and alcohol in the future. There is no better time to get your teen treatment than now.

Sunshine Care Centers has a suite of specialists with over 30 years of experience in drug and alcohol rehabilitation to assist you and your teen on the road to recovery. We pride ourselves on our clean, compassionate, and secure environment. We use evidence-based addiction treatment with flexible programs that cater to you and your teen’s needs. 

Don’t wait to receive the help you or your teen deserve. 

Speak to a specialist at Sunshine Care Centers by calling 883-597-CARE or message us today! 


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Children of Addicts