Adolescents and Harmful Substance Abuse: Growing Trends Could Spark Increased Use

While studies have proven that the use of cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol have declined in recent years among adolescents and teens, there is still concern that parents and educators should be aware of. Essentially the invention of newer devices like e-cigs and decreased concerns of the effects marijuana may have on a person’s health, and the “glorification” often displayed in the media, there is alarm that these declining statistics may start to increase substantially.

The need to enroll young adults into drug rehab for young men and women may rapidly increase without proper awareness, education, and prevention. Parents essentially need to be aware of their child’s activities, social circles, and potential exposures to the abuse of harmful substances. Five of the most commonly used substances among teens include:


The legalization of marijuana in various states and the glorification of pot used in the entertainment industry have made the use of marijuana more prevalent amongst adolescents. Marijuana is more accessible than ever and also a lot more potent than in times past. Marijuana use should not be taken lightly as it is referred to as a gateway drug, eventually driving teens to use harder drugs.

Prescription Drugs

Approximately 20% of teenagers use prescription drugs as a means for getting high. Another easily accessible substance, prescription drugs can easily be obtained, making them a drug of choice. Parents should be sure to keep prescription medication in a secure location to prevent abuse or distribution.


A growing trend amongst teens is the use of electronic cigarettes. Often referred to as vaping, the use of e-cigs has increased significantly over the past two years. Vaping is said to be popular to the younger audience for many reasons. Marketed in with unique vaping devices and varying flavors, they are looked at as cool to young children. E-cigs are also easy to get as they can be purchased online without age verification. They are also easy to conceal so they don’t get caught in school. Perhaps the scariest reason of them all is that many believe that vaping is a “healthier alternative to smoking,” which is not necessarily true.


Alcohol continues to be a trend amongst adolescents. In fact, more adolescents are said to drink alcohol than smoking cigarettes or using pot. There are several factors that could attribute to a teen trying alcohol. Some, like mental illness may require medical treatment, while other reasons like peer pressure and media exposure can be monitored by parents and educators.

Drugs on a Decline

There are a lot of harmful substances that have seen a significant decline in use among teens. This includes harder drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, inhalants, and surprisingly – cigarettes.

The truth is, teens are in an “experimental stage.” When the very environment around them encompasses and “praises” the use of harmful substances, it becomes increasingly tempting for them to want to try it out. As parents, guardians, and educators in the lives of adolescents, it is ideal that you be mindful of the environment, peers, and media they’re exposed to on a daily basis to try and minimize the use of harmful substances. Should you believe your child is already abusing substances or suffering from addiction, be sur to get immediate help from a rehab program catering to a younger audience.