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What do today’s youth know and think about substance use?

A revealing video

Monitoring the Future (MTF) is an annual survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Here are answers to the questions about substance use most frequently asked by youth and teens.

Standard Drink GraphicA. The body can typically process one standard alcoholic drink per hour. If you make the decision to drink, know what you’re consuming.

A. Teens’ brains and bodies are still developing; alcohol use can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. For example, people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin after age 20.

It's easier to refuse than you think. Try: "No thanks," "I have to wake up early," or "I don’t drink." Remember that the majority of teens don't drink alcohol.

A. YES. For most, addiction to alcohol and drugs is a process -- not an event. Most people who use alcohol and drugs do so with an intention of only using once or “once in a while.” No one decides that they want to become addicted to alcohol and drugs. But, we are dealing with addictive drugs that directly affect the brain. It is easy for occasional use to change to frequent use or constant use -- that is addiction. The only thing we know for sure: if you don't drink alcohol and don’t do drugs, you definitely won't become addicted.

A. Risk factors for becoming addicted to alcohol and drugs, like other conditions and diseases, vary from person to person. But, the common risk factors include:

  1. Genetics--your family history.
  2. Age when you start using alcohol or drugs.
  3. Family (including abuse, neglect and traumatic experiences in childhood) and Social Environment (including access to alcohol and drugs).
  4. Types of drugs used.

A. As a teen you should be concerned about alcohol and all of the other drugs, legal and illegal. Recently there has been a significant increase in the non-medical use of prescription pain drugs among young people. In fact, after marijuana, the next three most commonly used drugs are the non-medical use of prescription pain medications: Vicodin, OxyContin and Adderall.

A. No. And, research and experience show that the younger someone starts using alcohol and drugs, the greater the chance that they will become addicted.

A. Yes, marijuana is a plant but it has very real health consequences, including drug addiction. While some people think marijuana is a “harmless drug,” actual experience and the real science show a different reality. More teens are in treatment with a primary diagnosis of marijuana dependence than for all other illegal drugs combined.

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