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Drug and Alcohol Use and Abuse

Know the difference between teen drug or alcohol use and the abuse of drugs.

Drug and alcohol use and abuse may be the biggest perceived problem for teens in the US today. The thought of your dear sweet child taking drugs sends shivers down your spine and it should. As a general rule, drugs and alcohol are equally bad for the developing brain and body. The problem is big and we both know that drugs and alcohol have a long history of destruction in the US. Virtually every family in the country has been impacted negatively by the ravages of drug and alcohol addition. But there is good news.

National Institute on Drug Abuse, “there are encouraging trends in the patterns of drug use by teens.”

The NIDA research indicates:

2014’s Monitoring the Future survey of drug use and attitudes among American 8th, 10th, and 12th graders continued to show encouraging news about youth drug use, including decreasing use of alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription pain relievers; no increase in use of marijuana; decreasing use of inhalants and synthetic drugs, including K2/Spice and bath salts; and a general decline over the last two decades in the use of illicit drugs.

Read more here.

This, however, is not the case for adults where the Institute says:

Illicit drug use in America has been increasing. In 2012, an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older—or 9.2 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug or abused a psycho-therapeutic medication (such as a pain reliever, stimulant, or tranquilizer) in the past month. This is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in the use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug.

Read more here.

If drug and alcohol use among teenagers is decreasing, but it is simultaneously increasing in the culture at large, then there must be a significant increase in drug use among adults in the country. The NIDA attributes this increase to increased use of marijuana or cannabis, which is now legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia. This increase has been fueled by the recognition of many medical benefits by mainstream medicine. To see which states have legalized cannabis go here.

Well, that may be true, but what about driving while “High on marijuana?” The National Highway Safety Administration reports that drivers under the influence of marijuana. On February 9, 2015, the Washington Post wrote about their surprising results. Read the article.

This does not mean that your teen is doomed to become a druggie or a pothead when they get older.

It may actually mean that your teen could grow up making better decisions on personal use of drugs. When you look at the statistics you begin to see the true picture of teen drug and alcohol use. Your teen may or may not experiment with drugs and whether this becomes a problem or not may just depend upon how you view your teen.

Do you criticize more than praise? Do you abuse drugs, including prescription drugs and alcohol? Do you put a blind eye to the signs that point to a problem.? Do you end up in many power struggles with your teen. These are only a few of the hard questions that need to be asked if there is a drug and/or alcohol problem with your teen. If your teen is having problems with drugs and/or alcohol then you must take affirmative action. Seeking professional help is the first step to identifying and treating a problem related to drug and alcohol abuse.

How you see your teen is critical to their success. See them as successful and they will succeed. See them as failures and they will fail.

There are moneyed interests out there that want you to think that drug and alcohol abuse is rampant among our youth and every teen is at risk of becoming a “drug addict” and you must be vigilant. Fear is a very powerful method of control, but the statistics simply do not bare this out. Drug and alcohol use by American youth has remained relatively constant, varying only slightly over the past 3 decades. See for yourself. Take some time to look over the articles I’ve included here. Make your own mind up. There is much more evidence that our youth are doing better than you think, but hey, that’s not news.

About Ray

I was raised in a small town in Michigan. I was the middle child of 3 boys in a moderately dysfunctional family. I was fortunate to fall into the Hero role hat afforded me the very best that my family could provide. As a hero child, I was the first to go to college. College opened my eyes and my mind. College also turned out to be the bane of my family. To make along story short, at 38 years old and a new social worker, I learned of the dark secrets my family held. The more I reached out to help the family, the more the pushed me away until, I could not longer have contact with any family members. It's been nearly 30 years now. It's just better that way. As a result, I've focused my career on helping families, especially families with teenagers. I've always worked with teens, since I was 19 years-old I've worked with teens as a teacher, counselor, social worker and psychotherapist. I am still passionate about working with teens and their families, but am focused on working with large groups with multiple families in attendance. Part of my desire to accomplish on this website is to create a place for discussion of families, adolescents, their ever present angst. I want to share with parents of teens some of what the wisdom I've gained from 30 years of working with teenagers and their families. Please visit for awhile. Read some articles, make some comments or share a post with your friends or colleagues. I'm at your service.

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