Alcohol and drug abuse is a major public health issue in teenagers across the nation. In Florida, specifically, 56% of high school students have tried alcohol, 23.6% have tried tobacco and 53.3% have tried other drugs in their lifetime. It is important to note that speaking with your teen about substance abuse can significantly lower the chances that he or she will contribute to the percentages above.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs
Substance abuse can be scary, but educating yourself on the facts and figures can help give insight into the true prevalence of these issues. Alcohol continues to be the most commonly used drug among Florida teens with 20.5% of high school students reported for “past-30-day-use” in 2014. Black outs are not abnormal under the influence of alcohol, and can compound the negative effects of this substance. Marijuana and cigarettes rank second to alcohol in reports on teen use, with tobacco coming in at 4.9% past-30-day-use and 17.6% lifetime use. All illicit drugs combined, other than marijuana, have reports of 7.5% “past-30-day-use” by Florida teens.
Risks and Protective Factors
The following statistics taken from the 2014 Florida State Report, surveying Florida high school students, cover risks and protective factors associated with substance use:
- The percentage of Florida students reporting an enhanced level of risk declined for most risk factor scales between 2004 and 2014.
- “Florida students reported low rates of risk for a number of factors. For example, 25% of middle school and 26% of high school students reported an elevated level of risk for Early Initiation of Drug Use, and 24% of middle school students reported an elevated level of risk for Perceived Availability of Handguns. An elevated level of risk for Perceived Availability of Drugs was reported by 31% of high school students, while 32% of middle school students reported an elevated level for Favorable Attitudes toward ATOD Use.”
- “Florida students reported higher rates of protection for several factors. Among high school students, 62% reported an elevated level of protection for School Opportunities for Prosocial Involvement, 61% reported an elevated level of protection for Community Rewards for Prosocial Involvement, and 60% reported an elevated 2014 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey level of protection for School Rewards for Prosocial Involvement. Among middle school students, 60% reported an elevated level of protection for Family Opportunities for Prosocial Involvement.”
Consistent involvement in community activities, family events and extracurricular activities can decrease the risk of substance abuse in teens. Antisocial behaviors and acting out can be a sign or symptom of alcohol or drug use and questions should be asked if you feel your teen is exhibiting unnatural changes in behavior, such as isolation, lack of interest, depression, and anxiety. Looking at the percentages, it is imperative to speak with your teens on the risks and dangers of substances and the social, academic and financial consequences they bring.