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Drug and Alcohol Use Higher Among Massachusetts Youth

ARCpoint Labs of Worcester | Teen Drug and Alcohol Use in Massachusetts

Massachusetts parents, health professionals, educators, and others, take note: according to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), youth in our state have a higher rate of underage drinking and illegal drug use.

What exactly did the SAMHSA report show? ARCpoint Labs of Worcester shares the details below.

Massachusetts Teens Report High Drug and Alcohol Use

Illegal Drug Use

According to the SAMHSA data, 12.3% of Massachusetts youth from age 12 – 17 reported using illegal drugs within the past month. This rate is higher than neighboring states of New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, and Maine.

Teen Cigarette Use

7.4% of Massachusetts teens are also using cigarettes. This number is down from earlier years, yet still above the rates of cigarette use among teenagers nationwide.

Underage Drinking in Massachusetts

SAMHSA’s findings indicate that 7.8% of Massachusetts youth reported dependence on or misuse of alcohol. Compared to the nationwide average, 6.6%, it seems that our teens and preteens have a serious problem with underage drinking.

Average Age at First Use

Massachusetts youth ages 12 – 17 reported their first marijuana use at an average age of 14.1 years. First cigarette use averaged at 13.3, while the first instance of drinking alcohol at 13.5 years. Illegal use of prescription drugs, including pain relievers, sedatives, and stimulants occurred at an average of 13.3 years.

Perceptions About Safety of Drug and Alcohol Use

The root of the high rates of drug and alcohol use among 12 – 17 year olds in Massachusetts might relate to young people’s views on substance abuse. According to SAMHSA’s findings, 80% of Massachusetts youth saw no risk in smoking marijuana once a month, an opinion above the national average.

Likewise, 65% of Massachusetts youth saw no risk in consuming 5 or more alcoholic drinks 1 – 2 times per week compared to the national rate, 59.8%.

What Can We Do to Curb Teen Drug and Alcohol Use?

It’s key for parents, public health officials, and educators to be aware of these facts about drug and alcohol use among Massachusetts youth. That way, we can take action against illegal drug use and underage drinking and cigarette use. Here are some actions we all can take:

  • Educate young people on the dangers of substance abuse. There are countless drawbacks to drug and alcohol use, both medical and psychological. Give young people the knowledge they need to make an informed decision about the substances they put into their body.
  • Know what’s going on in young people’s lives. It’s important to monitor what your children are doing: who they’re hanging out with, how they’re behaving at school, how they’re acting around others, etc. Any sudden changes in personality could indicate potential drug and alcohol use or an increased risk of engaging in these behaviors. Pay attention to the preteens and teens around you and note any warning signs.
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