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Teens and drugs: Drug use statistics and treatment that works

August 28th, 2012

Here are some drug use statistics:

  • Over 80% of teens engage in some form of deviant behavior (1).
  • Over 50% of high-school seniors admit to having used drugs (2).
  • Only 10%-15% of the population develop drug addiction problems related to their drug use (1).

The question is:

If the majority of teens experiment with drug use, and so few eventually develop drug addiction problems, should we be focusing on something other than stopping kids from trying drugs?

Most of the costs associated with drug use for the “non-problem” kids come not from long-term use (or addiction), but instead from unforeseen consequences like arrest, pregnancy, and health-trauma in the short term often driven by uneducated, uninformed choices.

We usually make matters worse by grouping troubled kids together in “special education classes”, which has been shown time and time again to do little other than making things worse (for drug use, success in education, arrests, and many other things).

I’m not suggesting we stop trying to show kids that drugs can seriously affect their life in often negative (and sometimes life-threatening) ways. I have however learned (and this is a known fact in intervention design) that trying to stop a behavior is an almost impossible task while guiding people towards more desirable behaviors is much, much easier.

Importantly, doing this should allow us to focus our efforts of guiding at-risk kids away from long-term drug abuse and the addiction that may truly destroy their lives.

Being judgmental, hypocritical, and dogmatic about these issues is only going to keep us on the road we’ve been traveling for so long. Teens and drugs go hand in hand. It’s time to try a new approach.

Just a thought…

Question of the day:

How do you feel about the drug education you received in school? Was there anything you’d change about it if you could?

To see how ridiculous the “Just Say No” anti-addiction campaign was,. check this out:

(1) Moffitt, T. E. (1993). Adolescence-limited and life-course-persistent antisocial behavior: A developmental taxonomy. Psychological Review, 100, 674-701.
(2) Juveniles and Drugs Fact Sheet (2003). Office of National Drug Control Policy .

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6 Responses to “Teens and drugs: Drug use statistics and treatment that works”

  1. […] more vulnerable to behaviors that can be detrimental to their future. As I’d mentioned in my very first post, most of the negative impact of drug use on the lives of users is not related to long term […]

  2. Roger says:

    Well spoken.. You just hit it dead on.. Especially the “I have however learned (and this is a known fact in intervention design) that trying to stop a behavior is an almost impossible task while guiding people towards more desirable behaviors is much, much easier.”

  3. yayeena maryam says:

    true well said.

  4. Cathy says:

    Those are great questions, and I wish there were some easy answers. As a child, my drug education in school was minimal. Being a former teacher, I can tell you, at my school, which was at the elementary level, the October Red Ribbon Week was symbolic at best. I believe that the younger children do need to be exposed to the dangers of drug use, but middle school is where you really need a strong program, to give them solid information before they reach high school. How do you guide kids away from long term drug use? The school system could be a wonderful vehicle for this information, but look at what kind of situation our education system is in right now. This problem seems overwhelming on many levels. I completely agree with what you are saying, but unfortunately the resources are not there right now.

  5. Conspiracy girl says:


    For me It’s really important that we should tech our children at home first about what drugs is and what are the effects on us if we try it. For us that the children will be aware of what they are doing if ever they will go through that drug addiction which is our problem nowadays.

  6. What percent of teens using drugs and alcohol suffer from childhood depression?

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