The White House proclaimed October 2022 to be National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month. Of the more than 107,000 deaths related to drug overdoses in 2021, more than 1,000 were minors.1 Studies also show that minors using alcohol and illicit substancesA can lead to alcohol and substance use disorders in adulthood. Experts are urging parents and caregivers to intervene early.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released the following sobering statistics about youth alcohol and substance use as a part of their “Talk. They Hear You.”® campaign.2
Alcohol and Other Drug Facts
- Among people 12 or older in 2020, 58.7% used tobacco, alcohol, or an illicit drug in the past month.3
- Alcohol and other drug use during the teen years can interfere with normal brain development and increase the risk of developing a use disorder.3
- Injury and violence related to drug use is one of the leading causes of death for teenagers.3
Consequences of Youth Alcohol and Other Substance Use
- 47% of children who begin drinking before age 14 develop an alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives.4
- 9% of youth who do not drink alcohol before they are 21 develop an alcohol use disorder in their lifetime.4
For each additional year earlier than 21 that children begin to drink, the greater the odds they will develop an alcohol dependence at some point in their life.4
Additional research has found that 90% of Americans who meet the clinical criteria for addiction started using substances before the age of 18.5
Reasons Children May Start Drinking or Using Drugs
- Stress—When children worry about things like grades, physical appearance, and fitting in, they may drink or use drugs to try to escape their problems.6
- Peer Pressure—Between ages 11 and 18 is when youth are most likely to be influenced by their friends and social media.6
- Transitions—Life events such as transitioning to high school or college, a breakup, moving, or their parents’ divorce can influence children to turn to alcohol or other drugs.6
- Their Parents!—Children who see their parents or adult role models drinking or using other substances can encourage them to do the same.6
Alcohol and Marijuana Trends During COVID-19
- Alcohol sales in stores went up 21% during the first 7 weeks of lockdown, while online sales more than doubled.7
- A California investigation found that delivery services are often delivering alcohol to youth under the age of 21.8
- U.S. retail marijuana sales rose 46% in 2020 and are expected to reach $37 billion by 2024.9, 10
Delivery services are also used widely in retail marijuana sales and are difficult to police. Also, during the COVID-19 lockdown, marijuana was classified as “essential” in most states that have legal recreational use. There have also been concerns that because COVID-19 attacks the lungs, it is an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape.11
As part of their “Talk. They Hear You.”® campaign, SAMHSA has prepared a “Parents’ Night Out” toolkit to educate parents and caregivers on the extent of youth alcohol and other substance use and provide guidance on how to help their children avoid alcohol and substance use disorders.6 Access the Parents’ Night Out toolkit.
The White House briefing promoted “evidence-based strategies to prevent substance use and to intervene early so we can help keep America’s young people healthy and safe” and support for “programs that teach young people about the risks of drug and alcohol use — including the dangers of illicit fentanyl and counterfeit pills — and about the life-saving power of naloxone.”1
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A – Mentions of “drug use” or “substance use other than alcohol” in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) “Talk. They Listen.” series refer to the use of marijuana and other illicit drugs, prescription drug misuse and abuse, cigarette smoking, and vaping.
1 – The White House. (2022). A Proclamation on National Youth Substance Use Prevention Month, 2022. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2022/09/30/a-proclamation-on-national-youth-substance-use-prevention-month-2022/
2 – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2022). “Talk. They Hear You.”® Campaign. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/talk-they-hear-you
3 – Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2021). Results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2020-nsduh-annual-national-report
4 – Hingson, R.W., Heeren, T., & Winter, M.R. (2006). Age at drinking onset and alcohol dependence: Age at onset, duration, and severity. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 160(7), 739–746. doi:10.1001/archpedi.160.7.739
5 – The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. (2011, June). Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem. Retrieved from https://drugfree.org/reports/adolescent-substance-use-americas-1-public-health-problem/
6 – “Talk. They Hear You.”®. (2022). Parents’ Night Out. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://mailchi.mp/samhsa/parents-night-out-landing-page
7 – Nielsen. (2020, May 7). Rebalancing the ‘COVID-19 effect’ on alcohol sales. Retrieved from https://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/article/2020/rebalancing-the-covid-19-effect-on-alcohol-sales/
8 – California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. (2020). Delivery of Alcoholic Beverages. Retrieved from https://www.abc.ca.gov/delivery-of-alcoholic-beverages/
9 – BDSA. (2021, March 2). BDSA Reports Global Cannabis Sales Exceeded $21 Billion in 2020; Forecasts $55.9 Billion by 2026. Retrieved from https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/03/02/2185408/0/en/BDSA-Reports-Global-Cannabis-Sales-Exceeded-21-Billion-in-2020-Forecasts-55-9-Billion-by-2026.html
10 – McVey, E. (2020, June 30). US retail marijuana sales on pace to rise 40% in 2020, near $37 billion by 2024. MJBizDaily. Retrieved from https://mjbizdaily.com/exclusive-us-retail-marijuana-sales-on-pace-to-rise-40-in-2020-near-37-billion-by-2023/
11 – Volkow, N. (2020, April 6). COVID-19: Potential Implications for Individuals with Substance Use Disorders. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2020/04/covid-19-potential-implications-individuals-substance-use-disorders