SAMHSA Issues Report on American Adolescent Substance Use

SAMHSA Issues Report on American Adolescent Substance Use

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) oversees several data-collecting departments, including the Treatment Episode Data Set, the Drug Abuse Warning Network, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

The information collected by these entities provides insight into national trends related to substance use, focusing on certain segments of the population, such as by age, race or ethnicity. Some reports compare data from two time periods or population segments.

The reports are useful to those who are working to prevent substance use, such as policymakers and those who create educational materials, to substance abuse treatment providers and to community leaders that seek the best treatment for their residents.

A recent report from SAMHSA contained a summary of the findings presented by all four of the SAMHSA departments, with a special focus on the substance use patterns of teenagers. The data was gathered from 2010 and 2011 information.

The report shows that in 2011 there were 25.1 million teens between the ages of 12 and 17, with more than one-quarter using alcohol and one-fifth using an illicit drug. Nearly one-eighth of the teens had at least tried cigarettes. While the use of such substances declined between 2008 and 2011, the percentage of teens that received substance abuse treatment remained stable.

The findings show that, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 10.3 percent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 tried their first sip of alcohol during the past year and 6.3 percent reported using their first illicit drug. On an average day in the past year, 7,639 teens consumed alcohol, 4,594 used an illicit drug and 4,000 smoked marijuana. In addition, 2,151 teens on an average day misused prescription pain relievers.

When considering combined NSDUH information from 2010 and 2011 it can be estimated that nearly 7 million teens consumed alcohol, almost 5 million used a drug and 3 million smoked cigarettes. On an average day in the past 12 months, 881,684 smoked cigarettes and 646,702 used marijuana.

In addition, the findings reflected that when teens used alcohol in the past month they drank an average of 4.3 drinks on the days that they consumed alcohol. Those who smoked cigarettes in the last 30 days averaged 3.9 cigarettes on the days they smoked.

Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) information showed that there were 132,850 substance abuse treatment admissions in 2010. On an average day there were 266 admissions for marijuana use, 12 for heroin and three for cocaine.

On a typical day, TEDS reports that the majority of cases, 163, came from the criminal justice system, with 62 from other individuals or self-referral. Other referrals came from schools, community organizations or health care providers.

The National Survey on Substance Abuse Treatment Services found that on a typical day, 71,303 patients were outpatients, 9,302 required non-hospital residential treatment and 1,258 were treated at a hospital.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network reported 280,000 emergency room visits in 2011 for teens aged 12 to 17 and 181,005 of those involved alcohol, illicit drugs or misuse of pharmaceuticals.

On a regular day there were 777 emergency room visits for those between the ages of 12 and 17 related to drug use. Of those, 110 involved alcohol only, 87 were combinations of alcohol and other drugs and165 involved marijuana. Additional cases involved MDMA, cocaine, inhalants and heroin.

The findings of this SAMHSA meta-report helps give a full picture of teen substance abuse and treatment in the United States.

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