Overview of youth substance abuse problem and possible solutions

A commentary published in the May 2012 edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health provides a good overview of the adolescent substance abuse problem.  Some things I learned from the article are:

  • Among adolescents who use addictive substances, 65% use more than one drug.  
  • Among adolescents who have ever used tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs, 19% meet the clinical criteria for having a substance use disorder as do 33% of current users.
  • Only 6% of high school students who have a substance use disorder receive formal treatment.  Fewer teens who need treatment receive it compared with other age groups.
"Moreover, addictive substances have a greater negative impact on the adolescent brain than the adult brain, increasing the risk of further use, adversely influencing the development of the regions of the brain associated with judgment, attention, memory and reward seeking, and increasing the risk of addiction."  

The article goes on to outline influences that drive adolescent substance abuse such as parents, the media, availability and individual challenges.  It closes by stating, "Despite a significant body of scientific evidence demonstrating these facts, this knowledge [about adolescent substance abuse] has not been translated broadly into public health and medical practice."  

This is where coalitions can begin to create change.  Since coalitions are composed of individuals representing different sectors of a community, information about adolescent substance abuse and how we can prevent it can be widely shared.  Coalition members can play a significant role in educating others in the community.  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...