Adolescent Substance Abuse
Adolescent substance abuse continues to be epidemic in American society -- it crosses geographic, economic, gender, racial, and ethnic lines. In addition, more than a decade of national, state, and local prevention efforts have been minimally effective. It is a major problem that continues to escape our control.
Nearly 9 out of 10 high school seniors in America report that they have experimented with alcohol. Within this group, 3 out of 10 report alcohol abuse (defined as the consumption of five or more drinks in a row at least once during the past two weeks). Three out of four teens report a pattern of regular drinking, and more than 100,000 children aged 10 or 11 report that they get drunk once a week.
Between 2 and 6 percent of teens are problem drinkers, 8 to 13 percent have an alcohol abuse problem, and 6 to 9 percent have other drug abuse problems. Fifty percent of all adolescents admitted to psychiatric wards admit to moderate to heavy substance abuse.
National research reports indicate alarming of marijuana as well as stimulants, LSD, inhalants, and cigarettes by teens. Significant use of "gateway drugs," such as cigarettes and beer, are seen as early as the fourth grade. Alcohol experimentation increases from 6 to 17 percent between the fourth and sixth grades
In addition to the above pattern of actual use, a time bomb of skepticism and disregard exists in the value system of today's adolescent peer group. Researchers report disbelief among adolescents regarding physiological and psychological dangers associated with substance use.
Peer group disapproval of alcohol and other drug use is also decreasing. That is to say, the teens who use and abuse alcohol and other drugs are feeling quite bulletproof. Those peers who are non-users confront abusers less frequently now about both their behaviors and beliefs.
The picture painted is not a pretty one. Teens are experimenting with and abusing addictive substances in epidemic proportion, and their primary frame of reference...