Around the country, there are millions of teenagers who binge drink or abuse drugs. However, there are some states that seem to be more affected by this problem than others. Reports from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that Arizona has a higher rate of teen substance abuse than national averages in almost every area surveyed (Padilla). In order to combat this, some schools are now implementing support groups for teens who are struggling with substance abuse.
When it comes to marijuana, inhalants, cocaine, and pain pills, the rates of teen substance abuse in Arizona are higher than national averages. The average for teenagers who have used marijuana is 40%, as compared to 43% in Arizona. Additionally, of the Arizona students surveyed, 13% had experimented with inhalants and 8% had recreational use with pain medications. National averages in these categories are 11% and 6% respectively. Finally, 4% of teenagers in Arizona admitted to using any form of cocaine in the 30 days prior to the study, as compared to 3% nationwide (Arizona Teenage Drug Abuse Higher than National Average). Arizona showed the nation’s highest rate of students being offered, sold, or given illicit drugs on school properties (34.6%), as well as the highest rate of binge drinking in teenagers at 26.5% (Padilla).
It has become natural for teenagers to experiment with drugs and alcohol; however, there are many hidden dangers of teen substance abuse. A 2012 study found that out of 10,123 teenagers they surveyed, 78% drank alcohol, and that 15% of these teens met criteria for lifetime alcohol abuse.
Additionally, they found that 16% of the students they surveyed could be classified as drug abusers. This study also estimates that out of the 20 million alcoholics in the United States, more than half began drinking as teenagers (Castillo). Besides the risk of developing an addiction, teen substance abuse also affects many other aspects of a young person’s life.
Substance abuse can result in poor academics, feelings of alienation, increased accidental injury, and higher risks of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses – including suicidal ideation and actions (Arizona Teenage Drug Abuse Higher than National Average).
Since teen substance abuse is such a large problem in Arizona, school systems are taking the initiative to offer support groups instead of doling out punitive measures. A Teen Addiction Anonymous program is offered by 20 Valley high schools for students who are struggling with substance abuse. If teachers suspect a student is abusing drugs, they can refer them to this program. It is not meant for punishment, but it is meant to offer support for teenagers who want to stop drinking or using drugs. Hopefully, this approach will help alleviate some of the problem in Arizona, and more of these teenagers will want to get help before they get to a point of complete unmanageability.
“Arizona Teenage Drug Abuse Higher than National Average.” 22 July 2013. Decision Point Center. Web. 1 August 2013.
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