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Teenage Drug Use StatisticsIn 2008 in the U.S.:

  • 7,500 teenagers drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,360 teenagers used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 3,900 teenagers smoked cigarettes and nearly as many,
  • 3,700, smoked marijuana, all for the first time.

In a study known as “A Day in the Life American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts Update,” conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this is a stark approximation of what’s happening in the adolescent life of Americans aged 12 to 17 years. The teenage drug use statistics suggest that, on any given day in America in 2008, you’d find 563,000 teens using marijuana; almost 37,000 using inhalants; 24,000 using hallucinogens; 16,000 using cocaine; and 2,800 using heroin.

If these figures aren’t enough to suggest a problem with substance abuse among the young, there are harder numbers involving how many people under the age of 18 received treatment for substance abuse in 2008:

  • 76,000 teens were in outpatient treatment;
  • over 9,000 in non-hospital residential treatment,
  • and over 700 in hospital in-patient treatment.

There were also around 250,000 drug-related emergency visits to hospitals, of which 170,000 involved the use of illicit drugs, alcohol or the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs. Every day, on average, in 2008, there were 151 visits involving alcohol, 129 for marijuana, and 86 regarding prescription and non-prescription pain relievers.

First time use by teenagers suggest a good deal of experimentation:

  • 7,500 adolescents took their first drink;
  • 4,360 first used an illicit drug; 3,900 tried cigarettes;
  • and 3,700 teens either ingested or smoked marijuana for the first time,
  • while 2,500 decided to abuse pain relievers.

Discovering exact statistics for adolescent drug use is a tricky thing, because much of the statistics must come from the teenagers themselves; self-reporting tends to be lower than the real averages. It’s difficult to tell how much higher (or lower) the facts may actually be, but this report is a reasonable measure of the available statistics, which strongly describes the problem of substance abuse in adolescence.

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