Teens Addiction

What Are Teens Addicted To?

Many drug abuse and addiction cases happen among adolescents, so parents and teachers are advised to closely monitor them. These cases usually start from grade 8 to 12 students.

In this article, we are going to share some insights about the top substances abused by teenagers – the dangers, symptoms, and possible interventions that will help them overcome this issue.

Continue reading to find out more.

Quick Highlights About Teen Addiction

  • Addicted Teens86% of the general teen population knows someone who abuses substances
  • 50% of teenagers have tried misusing a drug once in their entire life
  • 43% of college students are engaged in illegal substances
  • The top four abused substances among teenagers are alcohol, nicotine, vapes, and prescription drugs.
  • Around 66% of grade 12 students are drinking alcoholic beverages
  • 50% of grade 9 to 12 students are using marijuana
  • 40% of grade 9 to 12 students have tried using cigarettes
  • 20% of grade 12 students are abusing prescription medicines
  • In terms of abusing illicit drugs, here are the corresponding statistics per grade level:
    • 8% grade 8
    • 4% grade 10
    • 3% grade 12

What Are the Risk Factors of Substance Abuse Among Teens?

Meanwhile, here are some of the common adverse effects of abusing drugs and illicit substances at a young age based on the studies of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • It impairs the full development of the brain
  • Development of unhealthy behaviors like drunk driving, unprotected sex, highly irritability, and being impulsive.
  • It can lead to the failure of other vital organs in your body such as your lungs, heart, liver, and brain
  • Abusing substances can also lead to co-occurring mental disorders such as dementia, schizophrenia, and others.

With that, there must be early detection for teenage addiction and drug dependence so that you can quickly provide an early intervention or treatment plan.

What Are The Common Reasons Why Teens Abuse Substances?

Teens AddictedBased on statistics, the majority of the teens who developed an addiction to substances are below 21 years. Here are the top reasons why teenagers are moved to abusing alcohol, prescription medicines, and other substances:

  • Peer pressure
  • Curiosity to try how these substances taste and work
  • Stress from school and family
  • Broken relationships
  • The desire to temporarily escape the sad reality of one’s condition

If you notice that your children are exhibiting strange behaviors, then it’s time that you try talking to them. Through frequent talks, they can freely open up to you, regarding their struggles and stress in life.

Most Abused Substances Among Teenagers

Going back, here are the most abused substances among adolescents starting from grade 8 to college. With that, you are highly encouraged to take a proactive and supportive perspective in reaching out to your teens.


  • A teen who starts drinking alcohol is 7x more likely to incur a motor vehicle accident.
  • Around 97,000 students have experienced sexual harassment due to alcohol drinking
  • The younger the age, the more excessively they drink alcoholic beverages. Around 20% of college students are doing binge drinking and inability to stop taking alcohol.
  • 74% of alcoholics have started drinking since they were age 17
  • 3% of alcoholics are aged 12-20, where 2.8% of them heavily drinks, while 12.1% binge drinks
  • 72% of high school students are engaging in alcohol drinking
  • In 2017, as the grade level of students increases, so as the percentage of students drinking alcohol. Here are the corresponding percentages of alcohol drinking students:
    • 8% grade 8 students
    • 7% grade 10 students
    • 33% grade 12 students


  • About 16% of teens who use marijuana at an early age are 25% to 50% more likely to develop an addiction to it in their adult stage.
  • Female students aged 14-15 who start using marijuana are more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 9% of all 10th graders have used this substance in the previous year, while 14% just last month
  • 6% of 12th graders are using this substance last year, while 22.5% last month
  • 53% of teens aged 12 to 17 have developed severe marijuana addiction in their later age

Vape or E-Cigarettes

  • Vaping is rampant among high school students where 27.8% of its general population are using these e-cigarettes
  • There was a survey regarding the thoughts of grade 12 about vaping, and these were their responses:
    • 8% said it is just flavoring
    • 8% said there’s nicotine
    • 1% said it has marijuana contents
  • Meanwhile, in a general grade 12 population, 10% of them said they used nicotine in their vapes, while 5% said they used marijuana concentrate.

Prescription Drugs and Opioids

  • 6% of teenagers aged 12 to 17 are misusing opioids and other prescription drugs
  • 20% of 12th graders are using prescription medicines without any prescription bottle
  • In 2015, around 4,235 deaths among teenagers were reported due to overdose with prescription drugs.

Common Signs of Substance Abuse Among Teenagers

Consequently, there are a few telltales that you can observe to determine if your teens are addicted to any substances. Often, it will still be difficult for any parent to immediately tell if those signs are just simple indications of adolescents or it’s already something else.

Here are the obvious symptoms you need to look out for in the presence of substance addiction among teens:

  • Teen Addiction SignsExhibiting a secretive or discreet behavior
  • Cannot do direct eye contact
  • Declining academic performance
  • Consistent tardiness
  • Routinely being late for curfews
  • Bad grooming or hygiene
  • You can smell some scent of cigarette or vape on the clothes
  • Reddish eyes
  • Routinely feeling tired or restless
  • Increased appetite levels with no reasons
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Sensitivity to lights and sounds

These are just some of the typical symptoms that can warn you of their possible drug abuse. When you see a few of these signs, it’s about time that you communicate with your children to slowly uncover their feelings and situation.

Meanwhile, your last resort to remedy their substance addiction will be leaning on professional medication from trusted rehab facilities and doctors.

What If Your Teen Denies or Admits to Having an Addiction?

Whether your teen(s) are admitting it or not, you as parents must never overreact to what they are going to share with you. It is always safe that you maintain your composure and genuine concern towards your children.

Once you can do that, you are giving them a comfortable and trustworthy environment to open up with their experience. This is very important for it will help you know if they have done it once or many times already. Likewise, you can better understand the reason why they were able to commit such an act in the first place.

No matter what happens to your course of conversation, always let them feel that you are sincerely concerned with their present condition and future. Moreover, leaning on professional doctors and physicians will be your last course of action for your teen’s recovery from addiction.

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