Teen Drug Abuse

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideTeen Drug Abuse: Warning Signs, Statistics, and Facts

Teen Drug Abuse: Warning Signs, Statistics, and Facts

How can parents prevent drug use?

Clear communication by parents about the negative physical, emotional, and functional effects of drugs, as well as about their expectations regarding drug use have been found to significantly decrease substance abuse in teens. Adequate parental supervision has also been found to be a deterrent to drug use in youth. Specifically, parents knowing how, where, and with whom adolescents socialize, as well as limiting their children's access to substances that can be abused have been associated with less teenage drug use. Limiting the amount of alcohol, cleaning solutions (inhalants), prescription, and over-the-counter medications that are kept in the home to amounts that can be closely monitored and accounted for has also been found to decrease substance abuse by teens.

Family focused abuse-prevention programs have produced reductions in adolescent drug abuse. Among ethnic minorities in the United States (for example African Americans, Hispanic, Native and Asian Americans), those who strongly identify with their communities and cultures have been found to be less likely to experience risk factors for using drugs compared to their peers who are less connected to their communities and cultures. Therefore, incorporation of a cultural component to drug-abuse prevention programs may enhance the effectiveness of those programs. Moreover, teens 15 to 16 years old who use religion to cope with stress tend to use drugs significantly less often than their peers who do not use religion to cope.

Alcohol and other drug use has been found to occur most often between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., immediately after school and prior to parents coming home from work. Teen participation in extracurricular activities has therefore been revealed as an important measure in preventing substance abuse in this age group.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/18/2015

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