Since 1975, the Monitoring the Future Survey has conducted research on drug and alcohol use in eighth-, tenth-, and 12th-graders. The most recent survey indicated that almost half of all high school seniors, almost 30% of tenth-graders, and almost 20% of eighth-graders had used alcohol in the past year. The survey also asks about marijuana, vaping, and other drug use. Vaping is of particular concern because the numbers between eighth-graders and 12th-graders are fairly close: About 12% of eighth-graders reported trying nicotine via vaping, versus about 26% of 12th-graders. Vaping is beginning at earlier ages, and that’s concerning to many scientists and epidemiologists who study issues related to addiction and adolescents.
It’s very easy for one drink or one use of a vape pen to quickly spiral out of control. Binge drinking was rising sharply in both adolescent males and females before the pandemic. One spot of good news is that during the pandemic, the rate at which teens reported drinking, vaping, trying pot, or using other drugs fell sharply. However, as normal life has resumed, many experts believe these rates will climb to their pre-pandemic numbers.
It’s important to remember that some people are far more at risk than others. For example, teens who aren’t doing well in school are more likely to develop substance abuse issues. However, that doesn’t mean that students on the honor roll are immune to this problem. Luckily, there are a lot of online resources for students who want to learn more about substance abuse in general, those who are worried about a friend or family member, and those worried about themselves. Many of the resources have 24/7 counselors available. Reach out if you need help.
Youth-Friendly Substance Use Online Resources
- Adolescent Substance Abuse: Knowing the risk factors for substance abuse can help teens look out for each other.
- Substance Use and Misuse: Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among teens and young adults.
- High-Risk Substance Use Among Youth: Teens can be particularly at risk of substance abuse issues. The CDC outlines these risks here.
- Truth Campaign: Vaping, tobacco, and opioids are discussed here in ways that resonate with teens and young adults.
Substance Use Resource Institutes
- National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence: The website of this nonprofit explains its programs, including prevention programs for schools, and also offers information about various forms of substance use.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: The NIAAA focuses on the harms caused by drinking and has a variety of resources available for young people about alcohol abuse.
- Substance Abuse Resource Center: Health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield runs this website that’s full of national and local resources for people who need help dealing with addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Locate Treatment Services
- Find Low-Cost or No-Cost Treatment: Cost is an issue for many people seeking treatment, but it doesn’t have to be.
- Find Treatment: Simply by entering your ZIP code, you can access a listing of all treatment centers in your area so you can find one that best suits your needs.
- Opioid Treatment Program Directory: People dealing with substance abuse issues related to opioid abuse can find a treatment program at this website.
- Find Local Drug and Alcohol Rehabs: SoberNation produced this directory of rehabilitation centers.
- Alateen: Teens impacted by someone else’s substance abuse can find the support they need here.
- Have a Problem With Alcohol? There Is a Solution: Alcoholics Anonymous hosts meetings for those struggling with alcohol abuse issues, and there are meetings and materials specifically for young adults.
- NA Meeting Search: Narcotics Anonymous offers support groups for those struggling with opioid addiction and other drug-related issues.
- SMART Recovery Meetings: SMART Recovery offers both online and in-person meetings across the United States and Canada and also has information specifically aimed at teens dealing with addiction.
- Crisis Text Line: Text “START” to 741-741 or find Crisis Text Line on WhatsApp to get help with any sort of mental health crisis, including issues relating to substance abuse.
- 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988 or 1-800-273-TALK to talk to counselors trained in helping people experiencing suicidal ideation or urges.
- The Trevor Project: Chat on the website, call 1-866-488-7386, or text “START” to 678-678 to reach a counselor trained in helping LGBTQIA+ teens in crisis.