Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Aged 12 to 14

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The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Report, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

This report recommends more study of prevention and treatment programs for young – rather than older – adolescents because of the growing numbers of youths 12 to 14 who report using drugs.  .

According to the Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report, approximately 23,770 substance abuse treatment admissions were adolescents aged 12 to 14 in 2008, and more than 366,000 of youths those ages reported using drugs, based on data from 2004 to 2009.

Almost one half of youth admitted for treatment, (46 percent) reported using multiple substances. The most common substances used were marijuana (60 percent) and alcohol (21 percent).

About thirty percent of early adolescents polled reported taking their first illegal substance when they were 11 years old or younger. Because of the early experimentation, the report maintains there is a need for substance abuse prevention efforts that target children younger than 11.

Male youths (63.6 percent) were more likely to admit to substance use than females. While males reported primarily marijuana use (70.9 percent versus 49.3 for females), females were more likely to report primarily alcohol use (30.1 percent for females versus 15.4 percent for males). Racially, non-Hispanic whites represented the largest using group at 39.4 percent.

Most of the adolescents received outpatient treatment (88.3 percent) and the largest number of referrals came from the criminal justice system (34.9 percent).

 The study recommends the implementation of illegal substance education programs targeting not only young children, but that are also gender specific, and speak to young people who may already be taking substances. This “may help deter these youth from continuing to use to the point where treatment is needed.”

Many of these adolescents examined in the report had psychiatric problems in addition to substance abuse problems. Also, about 1 in 5 admitted adolescents had been in treatment at least one time previously.

Free. May 3, 2011. 6 pages.