Legal, Educational & Health Impact of Teen Substance Use
75% of America's state prison inmates are high school dropouts (National Dropout Prevention Center).
4 of 5 teen arrestees are either under the influence of alcohol & drugs while committing their crimes, test positive for drugs, are arrested for alcohol and drug offenses, or admit having substance abuse and addiction problems (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse).
Increasing minority students' participation in college to the same percentage as that of white students would create an additional $231 billion in GDP and at least $80 billion in new tax revenues (National Dropout Prevention Center).
High school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely than high school graduates to be arrested in their lifetime (National Dropout Prevention Center).
10 million young people (12 to 29 year olds) in America are in current need of treatment for substance abuse and addiction (Partnership for Drug-Free America).
90 percent of addictions start in the teen years (Partnership for Drug-Free America).
DAWN (Drug Abuse Warning Network), a public health surveillance system that monitors drug-related morbidity and mortality estimates that, on any given day in 2011, there were 63 ED visits for drug-related suicide attempts among adolescents (Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality Report, SAMSHA).
Beginning substance use and abuse in early adolescence is associated with more serious delinquency and longer deviant careers (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Dept. of Justice).
PROTECTIVE vs. RISK Factors
As teenagers begin to assert their independence and find their own identity, many experience behavioral changes that can seem bizarre and unpredictable to parents, educators and the community. All teens experience struggles, face stress-related challenges in relationships, school, home and in the community.
Normal/healthy teens tend to possess higher levels of protective factors, those conditions and attributes in individuals, families and communities that, when present serve to buffer or mitigate risk factors. Protective factors might be the availability of resources: financial, legal or educational; strong support systems: family or community connections; parents who set clear rules and enforce them; or the teen's own individual coping strategies. For most, protective factors significantly increase the possibility of a healthy and safe developmental transition from childhood to adulthood.
A troubled, at-risk teen face greater challenges. They possess fewer protective factors and a greater degree of risk factors. These risk factors often lead to behavioral, emotional, or learning problems beyond the normal teenage issues. They may repeatedly practice at-risk behaviors such as violence, skipping school, drinking, drug use, sex, self-harming, shoplifting, or other criminal acts. They may even exhibit symptoms of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, or eating disorders.
While any negative behavior repeated over and over can be a sign of underlying trouble, it’s important for parents to understand which behaviors are normal during adolescent development, and which can point to more serious problems.