Drug Abuse More Likely Among High School Dropouts

Drug Abuse More Likely Among High School Dropouts

Drug Abuse More Likely Among High School Dropouts

Drug Abuse More Likely Among High School DropoutsIndividuals who do not finish high school are at an increased risk for many negative outcomes. Higher rates of substance use, a lack of health insurance and employment challenges are just a few of the difficulties that may face teens who drop out of high school as they transition into adulthood.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides information about substance abuse within various sectors of the population. The data is collected through the administering of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), which asks respondents about not only drug and alcohol use, but also about multiple health-related topics, as well as education and employment.

The information gathered by the NSDUH is helpful in many areas. The policymakers who determine the need for substance abuse treatment facilities in their jurisdiction use the reports to make adequate treatment available. In addition, educators and treatment centers access the information to develop strategies for intervention and prevention.

A recent report by SAMHSA detailed the substance use among 12th -grade aged high school dropouts, providing data by various demographic divisions. Among American high school students, approximately 75 percent graduate. The report provides information comparing substance use between 12th-grade high school students and 12th-grade aged dropouts.

The report shows that males are more likely than females to drop out of school, at a rate of 14.7 percent versus 11.6 percent. Overall, 13.2 students drop out of school, with one-quarter of the dropouts identifying as Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska natives.

Those who dropped out of school were more likely to smoke cigarettes, consume alcohol and binge drink, and use drugs. The report’s details show that 56.8 percent of dropouts were smokers compared to 22.4 percent of those who remained in school. In addition, 27.3 percent of dropouts used marijuana, compared with 15.3 percent of youths who remained in school.

The substance use by dropouts was higher among males. For instance, among dropouts, the rate of males smoking was 60.1 percent compared with 23.8 percent among males in school. However, the rate of substance use was also higher for female dropouts than for females who stayed in school.

There were differences observed in substance use rates among dropouts compared to those in school when examined by race. Among white youths, cigarette use was more than twice as high for dropouts as it was for those who stayed in school. Among black dropouts, the rate of cigarette use was four times that of youths who stayed in school.

The report’s details about substance use among those who drop out of high school is critical for providing adequate treatment.

Reducing the substance use among high school dropouts may serve to improve other negative outcomes affecting this group, including employment levels, financial security and access to health insurance.

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