Alcohol is the oldest drug around. It is also the most widely-used and almost 50 percent of people aged 12 and over have consumed alcohol in the United States. Most people are able to consume alcohol responsibly. However, for one reason or another, some people abuse alcohol and develop addictions. Drug information from the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE)states that approximately 10 to 15 million people in the United States can be classified as alcoholics. About 4.5 million of those people are adolescents. Alcohol dependence will affect 17 percent of men and 8 percent of women at some point in their lives. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 79,000 deaths per year are the direct result of excessive alcohol consumption. It is the third leading cause of death (life-style related) in the nation and the leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24. In 2005, excessive alcohol caused 4 million emergency room visits and 1.6 million hospitalizations. About 2,000 people under the legal drinking age (21) die annually in car crashes due to alcohol and it is involved in nearly 50 percent of all teen deaths involving violence. Drug abuse is also a major concern for the country. According to the latest drug information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug abuse costs the United States over $600 billion annually in health care treatments, lost productivity, and crime. This breaks down to $181 billion for illicit drugs and $235 billion for alcohol. In 2009 alone, over 2.1 million visits to the emergency department were related to drug abuse, as follows: * Non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs (27 percent)
* Illicit drug use (21 percent)
* Combination of alcohol with drugs (14 percent)
* Eighty percent of patients were 21 or older
* Over 420,000 of the visits were related to cocaine use
* The most common drug combination was alcohol and central nervous system depressants (over 519,000) However, the cost to the individual is often immeasurable because drug and alcohol abuse can lead to lost relationships, child and spousal abuse, and unemployment.
Adolescent Substance Abuse
Being a teenager and raising a teenager are individually, and collectively, enormous challenges. For many teens, illicit substance use and abuse become part of the landscape of their teenage years. Although most adolescents who use drugs do not progress to become drug abusers, or drug addicts in adulthood, drug use in adolescence is a very risky proposition. Even small degrees of substance abuse (for example, alcohol, marijuana, and inhalants) can have negative consequences. Typically, school and relationships, notably family relationships, are among the life areas that are most influenced by drug use and abuse. One of the most telling signs of a teen's increasing involvement with drugs is when drug use becomes part of the teen's daily life. Preoccupation with drugs can crowd out previously important activities, and the manner in which the teen views him or her self may change in unrealistic and inaccurate directions. Friendship groups may change, sometimes dramatically, and relationships with family members can become more distant or conflictual. Further bad signs include more frequent use or use of greater amounts of a certain drug, or use of more dangerous drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines, or heroin. Persistent patterns of drug use in adolescence are a sign that problems in that teen's environment exist and need to be addressed immediately. What causes adolescent substance abuse?
There is no single cause of adolescent drug problems. Drug abuse develops over time; it does not start as full-blown abuse or addiction. There are different pathways or routes to the development of a teen's drug problems. Some of the factors that may place teens at risk for developing drug problems include: * insufficient parental supervision and monitoring
* lack of...