A Day in the life of an Adolescent

   

A Day in the Life of American Adolescents: Substance Use Facts

In the United States in 2006, one third of adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the past year, one fifth used an illicit drug, and one sixth smoked cigarettes.  Although

the percentage of adolescents using alcohol and drugs declined between 2002 and

2006, the percentage of persons aged 12 to 17 receiving substance abuse treatment

has remained relatively stable.  In 2005, 7.7 percent of all persons admitted to

publicly funded treatment facilities were aged 12 to 17.  Office of Applied Studies

(OAS) in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

collects, analyzes, and disseminates critical public health data. OAS manages three

national data collections that offer insight into adolescent substance use and

treatment: the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), the Treatment

Episode Data Set (TEDS), and the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment

Services (N-SSATS). This issue of The OAS Report presents facts about

adolescent substance use, including initiation, and receipt of treatment for substance

use “on an average day. Data presented in this report from the 2006 NSDUH and

the 2005 TEDS are for adolescents aged 12 to 17; data presented from the 2005 N-

SSATS are for youth under 18.


First Substance Use


According to the 2006 NSDUH, 10.6 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank

alcohol for the first time in the past year, and 5.8 percent used an illicit drug for the first

time. The 2006 NSDUH also indicates that on an average day during the past year,

 adolescents aged 12 to 17 used the following substances for the first time (Figure 1):

  • 7,970 drank alcohol for the first time;
  • 4,348 used an illicit drug for the first time;
  • 4,082 smoked cigarettes for the first time;
  • 3,577 used marijuana for the first time;
  • 2,517 used pain relievers nonmedically for the first time;
  • 1,603 used inhalants for the first time;
  • 1,281 used hallucinogens for the first time;
  • 909 used cocaine for the first time;
  • 860 used stimulants nonmedically for the first time;
  • 236 used methamphetamine for the first time; and
  • 86 used heroin for the first time.

 Number of Adolescents Aged 12 to 17 Who Used Cigarettes, Alcohol, or Illicit Drugs for the First Time on an Average Day: 2006 NSDUH
Substance Number of Adolescents
Alcohol 7,970
Any Illicit Drug 4,348
Cigarettes 4,082
Marijuana 3,577
Pain Relievers* 2,517
Inhalants 1,603
Hallucinogens 1,281
Cocaine    909
Stimulants*    860

Source: SAMHSA, 2006 NSDUH.


Cigarette, Alcohol, and Illicit Drug Use


According to the 2006 NSDUH, more than 8 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 drank alcohol in the past year, nearly 5 million used an illicit drug, and more than 4 million smoked cigarettes. In addition, on an average day during the past year, adolescents aged 12 to 17 used the following substances (Figure 2):

  • 1,245,240 smoked cigarettes;
  • 630,539 drank alcohol;
  • 586,454 used marijuana;
  • 49,263 used inhalants;
  • 26,645 used hallucinogens;
  • 13,125 used cocaine; and
  • 3,753 used heroin.

Number of Adolescents Aged 12 to 17 Who Used Cigarettes, Alcohol, or Illicit Drugs on an Average Day: 2006 NSDUH
Substance Number of Adolescents
Cigarettes 1,245,240
Alcohol    630,539
Marijuana    586,454
Inhalants      49,263
Hallucinogens      26,645
Cocaine      13,125
Heroin        3,753

Source: SAMHSA, 2006 NSDUH.

The 2006 NSDUH also indicates that:

  • adolescents who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 4.7 drinks per day on the days they drank; and
  • adolescents who smoked cigarettes in the past month smoked an average of 4.6 cigarettes per day on the days they smoked.


Substance Abuse Treatment


TEDS reported that in 2005 there were 142,646 admissions for adolescents aged 12 to 17 to substance abuse treatment programs (TEDS data come primarily from facilities that receive some public funding). TEDS also indicates that on an average day in 2005, adolescent admissions to treatment presented with the following substances as the primary substance of abuse11 (Figure 3):

  • 255 with marijuana;
  • 72 with alcohol;
  • 24 with stimulants;
  • 10 with cocaine;
  • 7 with opiates; and
  • 7 with other drugs.

Number of Adolescents Aged 12 to 17 Admitted to Publicly Funded Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities on an Average Day, by Primary Substance of Abuse: 2005 TEDS
Substance Number of Adolescents
Marijuana 255
Alcohol   72
Stimulants   24
Cocaine   10
Opiates     7
Other Drugs     7

Source: SAMHSA, 2005 TEDS.

The 2005 TEDS also indicates that on an average day in 2005, the number of adolescent admissions to substance abuse treatment were referred by the following sources12 (Figure 4):

  • 189 by the criminal justice system;
  • 66 by self-referral or referral from other individuals;
  • 43 by schools;
  • 37 by community organizations;
  • 22 by alcohol or drug treatment providers; and
  • 18 by other health care providers.

Number of Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions among Adolescents Aged 12 to 17 on an Average Day, by Principal Source of Referral: 2005 TEDS
Source of Referral Number of Admissions
Criminal Justice System 189
Self or Other Individuals   66
Schools   43
Community Organizations   37
Treatment Providers   22
Other Health Care Providers   18

Source: SAMHSA, 2005 TEDS.

In addition, N-SSATS, which collects information on substance abuse treatment at both publicly and privately funded facilities, reports how many active clients13 under the age of 18 received the following types of substance abuse treatment on an average day in 2005 (Figure 5):

  • 76,240 were clients in outpatient treatment;
  • 10,313 were clients in non-hospital residential treatment; and
  • 1,058 were clients in hospital inpatient treatment.

 Number of Adolescents Under Age 18 Who Were Clients in Publicly or Privately Funded Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities on an Average Day, by Service Type: 2005 N-SSATS
Service Type Number of Adolescents
Outpatient 76,240
Non-hospital Residential 10,313
Hospital Inpatient   1,058

Source: SAMHSA, 2005 N-SSATS.

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