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What is the Number One Drug Used by Teens?

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Teen drug use has been on the rise. This remains a concern because teens have been found to be more susceptible to developing an addiction. Researchers have found that the earlier people start to experiment and try drugs, the higher the chances of developing an addiction. Certain risk factors can raise the likelihood that teens will become addicted to drugs, such as poor supervision, familial conflict, family history of drug abuse, or a history of sexual or physical abuse. Therefore, parents and other caregivers need to remain educated about the common drugs used by teens and signs of teen drug use. 

What is the Number One Drug Used by Teens?

The most commonly used drug among teens can change from year to year. For example, it switched from alcohol in 2018 to any vaping in 2019. According to the Monitoring the Future survey from 2020, alcohol was the most popular drug used by teens. In 2020, 33.6% of 12th graders said that they had consumed alcohol in the past month. 

What are other drugs teens use? 

Each of the surveyed drugs had some amount of teens that had used it in the past month in 2020. However, most of these had very low percentages. Other drugs had much more significant rates of usage, including: 

  • Any vaping – 28.2% of 12th graders from the 2020 survey had used any vaping substance in the past month. 
  • Vaping nicotine – 24.7% of 12th graders from the 2020 survey had vaped nicotine in the past month.
  • Illicit drugs – 22.2% of 12th graders from the 2020 survey had used any illicit (i.e., illegal) substance in the past month. 
  • Marijuana – 21.2% of 12th graders from the 2020 survey had used marijuana in the past month. 

Signs Your Teen is Using Drugs 

You can only know for certain if your teen is using drugs if they test positive on a drug screen or if you catch them in the act. You’re likely to notice other signs of drug use before these two, so it’s important to always be on the lookout for changes in behavior and appearance in your teen. Here are some signs to look out for

  • Frequently changing friends, especially when you don’t know the friends and disapprove of them. 
  • Decreased participating in activities that they used to enjoy or withdrawing from others. This can include quitting sports teams or clubs they used to enjoy, staying in their bedrooms more often, not talking to family members, not going out on outings with family members, and more. 
  • Breaking the rules, such as curfew, and coming up with fabricated explanations for this behavior. 
  • Unusual aggressive outbursts. It may feel like walking on eggshells around them because they are unusually irritable. 
  • Confronting them about possible substance use is met with an angry reaction. 
  • Their grades start to slip noticeably, and they start skipping class or entire schooldays. 
  • Mood swings
  • Bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, or pinpoint pupils. 
  • A general lack of motivation affecting their school behavior, hygiene, and household chores. 
  • Uncharacteristic behavior, such as stealing, lying, or disrespect for authority figures. 

How to Get Your Teen Help with Addiction Today

If you suspect that your teen is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It is never too soon nor too late to seek help for your teen. Having a professional objectively assess your teen’s needs is necessary to deem if they are struggling with addiction and what treatment options may best suit their needs. Thrive Treatment has many treatment options available, including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, outpatient, and sober living homesContact us today to schedule an assessment for your teen!

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