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Why urgent issue hero
21million half

21 million people needed substance use treatment in 2016, including 1.1 million adolescents.

74percent half

74% of adults with a substance use disorder began substance use at the age of 17 or younger.

42 5ayear half

42.5% of adolescents have used substances in the past 12 months.

Youth substance use is a public health crisis. The prevalence of substance use disorders is increasing, and adult substance use disorders often originate in youth. The COVID-19 pandemic has also worsened youth substance use and mental health concerns.

  • 20.1 million people aged 12 or older meet the criteria for a substance use disorder.1
  • 21 million people needed substance use treatment in 2016, including 1.1 million adolescents.1
  • Almost 40% of individuals with a behavioral health disorder never receive treatment.2
  • 74% of adults with a substance use disorder began substance use at the age of 17 or younger.1
  • 42.5% of adolescents have used substances in the past 12 months.3
  • 16.4% of adolescents who use drink or use drugs meet the DSM-IV criteria for a substance use disorder.3

Early onset of substance use has been tied to a number of negative outcomes, including:4

  • Increased risk for a substance use disorder later in life
  • Motor vehicle accidents and fatalities
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Violence and criminal behavior
  • Trouble with family
  • Mental health issues
  • Decline in school performance
  • Involvement in the juvenile justice system

References

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (July 17, 2014). The TEDS Report: Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18 to 30. Rockville, MD.
  2. Rosenberg L. (2012). Behavioral disorders: the new public health crisis. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 39(1), 1–2. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11414...
  3. Swendsen, J., Burstein, M., Case, B., Conway, K. P., Dierker, L., He, J., & Merikangas, K. R. (2012). Use and abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs in US adolescents: Results of the national comorbidity survey-adolescent supplement. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 69(4): 390-398. https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2011.1503
  4. Odgers, C. L., Caspi, A., Nagin, D. S., Piquero, A. R., Slutske, W. S., Milne, B. J., ... & Moffitt, T. E. (2008). Is it important to prevent early exposure to drugs and alcohol among adolescents? Psychological Science, 19(10), 1037-1044. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02196.x.