2023/2024 Teen Drug Addiction and Abuse Resource Guide

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Updated 12/20/2022

Teen addiction continues to be a challenge for families and communities across the United States. Caring adults need to understand more about teen addiction so they can provide the right kind of help to adolescents in their lives. If you suspect that a teen you care about is living with addiction, learning more about why teens use substances, which substances they use and what treatment options are available could help you connect them to the care they need.

Why Do Teens Struggle With Substance Abuse?

Teen drug abuse is currently at an all-time low. Drug prevention programs have had a positive effect on overall substance use among teens. However, many teenagers struggle with substance misuse every year. Young people often use drugs to deal with larger life problems. Teens who try drugs can get into a deeper problem before they realize it.

Teens may begin using substances for many reasons, including:

  • Peer Pressure: Teens want to fit in and may believe that using substances is a common popular activity. Their fear of missing out often leads teens to try drugs or alcohol.
  • To Get High: Many teens are anxious to find new ways to feel good, which may lead them to try substances. Drugs and alcohol also have a stronger effect on teenagers, making the experience more intense and enjoyable than it might be for an older individual.
  • Mental and Physical Pain Relief: Some teens use substances to escape feelings of depression, anxiety or mental distress. Substance use can become a source of pain relief for chronic or intense physical pain.
  • Academic and Athletic Performance: Drugs that produce a heightened state of arousal are sometimes used to improve athletic performance. Some students use stimulants to stay awake during long study nights or to be more alert during tests.
  • Experimentation: Teenagers are learning how to become independent and experimentation may be part of the process. Young people are drawn to new experiences and often try things before understanding their benefits and risks.

Teen Substance Abuse Statistics

Teen drug use facts show that youth are still trying substances and many are at risk for addiction. An increasing number of teens see vaping as a trendy way to use nicotine. According to a report from the CDC, the number of teens who have tried vaping even once is a hefty 42.2%, compared to just 28.9% who have ever tried a standard cigarette.

Despite the troubling trend with vaping, overall substance use rates by teenagers in the United States have been declining steadily in recent years, according to the annual Monitoring the Future survey from the University of Michigan. Aside from marijuana and vape use, the use of illicit drugs by teenagers in the United States is at the lowest rate in over two decades.

Teen Addiction Statistics in Ohio

Ohio teens show similar downward trending patterns of drug use, according to a student drug use survey done in the Cincinnati area in 2018. Other promising data shows that Ohio teens still need help recognizing and stopping dangerous substance abuse behaviors. However, there are strong signs of progress:

  • Parental and friend drug use disapproval rates are at the highest levels ever recorded
  • Cigarette use continued to show significant declines, reaching their lowest levels in the history of the survey
  • Alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance reported in the past 30 days at 13.7%, while marijuana follows in second place at 8.2%

Common Drugs Used By Teens

The number one drug used by teens today is alcohol, according to the Monitoring the Future survey, which states that 58% of 12th graders have used alcohol in their lifetime. While alcohol and nicotine lead the way as the most used substances by teens, teens are also at risk of marijuana and prescription drug use.


Teen alcohol abuse affects many families each year. However, alcohol use among teens has steadily declined over the last two decades. According to the Monitoring the Future survey, this decline may be partially attributable to an increased perception of risk associated with binge drinking.


Marijuana is being legalized in new states every year. Despite this trend, marijuana use in teens has declined and held steady at the lowest levels in two decades. However, marijuana ingested through vaping has increased.

Vaping Products

Vaping is often promoted as a safe alternative to cigarette smoking. However, teen vaping exposes young people to high levels of nicotine and dangerous chemicals in even small doses.


Use of traditional cigarettes is at its lowest rate among teens in the history of the Monitoring the Future Survey, which goes back to 1975. However, teen tobacco use is generally increasing with the recent popularity of vaping.

Prescription Drugs

Opioid abuse and overdose deaths among adults have gotten national attention in recent years. However, the Monitoring the Future survey states that teen prescription drug abuse among teens has dropped over the last five years.

Signs of Drug & Alcohol Abuse in Teens

It’s not unusual for teenagers to seem moody at times or fall into unhealthy sleep patterns. Teens are still growing and understanding the world around them. However, some changes and behaviors can be red flags for something serious like substance abuse. The signs of drug use in teens are noticeable if a parent knows what to look for and may include physical and behavioral signs and the possession of paraphernalia.

Physical Signs

Changes in appetite, weight and general appearance can be red flags for substance abuse. Teens misusing substances often neglect their personal hygiene and self-care. Red, bloodshot eyes may also be signs of possible drug use.

Behavioral Signs

A teen struggling with substance abuse may develop strange sleep patterns. Teens may also seem more moody or defiant with authority figures. A sudden change in friend group or social patterns can potentially signal the use of substances.


Substance paraphernalia can sometimes be found when a teen begins using drugs or alcohol. A few items, like vaping pens or marijuana pipes, may look like trinkets or souvenirs. Many paraphernalia is made of common household objects. These items can be more challenging to identify without training.

Effects Of Teen Substance Abuse

Teen drug abuse is a complex problem that affects many areas of a young person’s life. If not caught early enough, the effects of drug abuse on a teen’s life can be devastating.

Academic Problems

For a teen to have academic success, he or she must be able to think clearly and devote time to their studies. Substance misuse causes problems with sleep, attention and healthy brain functioning. The average age of full brain development has been established at age 25. When a young person misuses substances, critical periods of brain development are disrupted. If substance misuse is regular or intense, development can be affected significantly.

Health Problems

Regardless of the substance, regular misuse and intoxication will negatively affect a young person’s health. The body has to spend energy processing toxic substances and chemicals. Substance misuse negatively affects many important bodily functions and behaviors, including:

  • Brain damage or bodily tissue damage
  • Less effective immune system
  • Increased risk of injury or death

Emotional and Relationship Problems

Regular substance misuse creates emotional and mental instability. This lack of stability usually causes relationship problems. Teens using drugs will choose drug activities instead of important relationships with friends and family. Substance misuse can also increase the likelihood of developing a co-occurring mood disorder like depression or anxiety.

See More: Substance Abuse Counseling

Treatment Options for Teen Addiction in Ohio

Getting help for teen drug addiction can be a challenging process. A family trying to find addiction treatment for their teen may feel overwhelmed by their options. Fortunately, Ohio families have many types of treatment available around the state. Primary care doctors or school professionals may know about specific facilities or programs in different regions of Ohio. These individuals can help families locate high-quality, reputable addiction treatment.

Drug Rehab Centers for Teens

Teen drug rehab involves different types of care for each stage of recovery. The level of care can range from outpatient treatment a few times a week to intensive residential settings. Each type of care has a specific purpose. These services are designed with medical and psychological safety in mind.

  • Medical Detox: Medical detox facilities in Ohio provide a medically monitored environment for individuals to safely detox from substances. Services can last up to a week to make sure withdrawal symptoms are managed.
  • Inpatient Drug Rehab: Inpatient drug rehab centers in Ohio provide long-term, holistic addiction treatment. Services often include individual and group counseling, nutrition guidance and recreational therapy.
  • Outpatient Rehab: Outpatient drug rehab in Columbus, Ohio, is a less intensive type of treatment. An individual undergoing outpatient treatment typically lives at home and may even attend work. This level of care is appropriate for people who have less severe addictions.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): This treatment approach combines behavioral counseling and medications to treat substance use disorders. Medications are used to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. When these symptoms are improved, counseling can be more effective.
  • Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment: Co-occurring disorders treatment can be undergone in an outpatient or inpatient setting. During co-occurring disorder care, clients receive treatment for addiction and any other mental health conditions that may also be present. RELATED: How to Help Your Teen Struggling With Mental Health Issues
  • Aftercare: Aftercare is designed to help a person transition from an intense treatment to a home setting. Services can include ongoing counseling, medical evaluations and support groups.

Contact the Columbus Recovery Center

Understanding your teen’s drug addiction can be a heartbreaking and overwhelming experience. You don’t need to go through this process alone. The professional staff at The Recovery Village Columbus is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help you explore your treatment options. Call The Recovery Village Columbus today to learn more about helping your teen with drug abuse or addiction.

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