There’s good news to report on teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes. According to new government data, smoking and drinking among teenagers fell to new lows in 2015.
According to the data gathered, just 9.6 percent of adolescents, ages 12 to 17, reported using alcohol in 2015, down from 17.6 percent in 2002.
Far fewer adolescents smoke every day: about 20 percent in 2015, down from 32 percent in 2002.
The numbers came from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency that tracks addiction and mental health issues in the United States.
It appears that today’s teens are choosing not to follow in their parent’s footsteps, which had much higher rates of smoking and drinking when they were adolescents.
Kana Enomoto, principal deputy administrator at the agency, said the new numbers showed that rigorous public health efforts to reduce smoking and drinking among teenagers were paying off.
The survey also tracked prescription drug use and abuse, as well as the use of illegal drugs like heroin. While the trend is still down, the difference was not statistically significant from 2014, but headed in the right direction. Heroin deaths have been increasing rapidly across the country, health experts are hoping the data showing a decline in use could be an early indicator that the trend is reversing.
Prescription drug abuse is still very high in the United States. The survey found that about 119 million Americans 12 and older, or about 44 percent of that population, used prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past year. Of those, the vast majority — about 98 million — used pain relievers.
In all, about 19 million people age 12 and older, or about 7 percent of that population, misused prescription drugs in the past year, including about 12.5 million people who misused pain relievers.
Government funded treatment programs for drug abuse continue to lack congressional approval, frustrating mental health and drug abuse service providers.
“There’s no other condition for which we would accept the fact that less than 10 percent of people are treated,” Ms. Enomoto said.
A decrease in the numbers of teens drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes is really a welcomed change. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the United States, with illnesses linked to it taking more than 480,000 lives a year.
Research indicates that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal adolescent brain development and increase the risk of developing an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD.) In addition, underage drinking contributes to a range of acute consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even deaths—including those from car crashes.
No one wants to see his or her son or daughter become one more sad statistic. Family support and treatment availability are key in helping our young people live healthier and happier lives.
Story source: Sabrina Tavernise,