Stress Main Factor Driving Teens to Abuse Drugs, Alcohol

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by HealthDay.

American teenagers cite stress as the leading reason they might get drunk or high, a new report reveals.

That only underscores the need for better adolescent mental health care, according to the research team behind the study.

Better “access to treatment and support for mental health concerns and stress could reduce some of the reported motivations for substance use,” concluded investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the study, a team led by CDC researcher Sarah Connolly looked at 2014-2020 data on over 9,500 people ages 13 to 18, all of who were being treated for a substance use disorder.

Teens were using a myriad of substances, including alcohol, marijuana, prescription painkillers (often opioids), prescription stimulants (for example, Ritalin), or prescription sedatives (such as Valium or Xanax).

The teens were also asked why they thought they were using or abusing substances. Easing stress in their lives was the leading factor cited.

“The most commonly reported motivation for substance use was “to feel mellow, calm, or relaxed” (73%), with other stress-related motivations among the top reasons, including “to stop worrying about a problem or to forget bad memories” (44%) and “to help with depression or anxiety” (40%),” Connolly’s team reported.

Stress relief wasn’t the only motivator, of course: Half of the teens reported using substances “to have fun or experiment.” This reason for using substances was more often cited for alcohol or nonprescription drug use than it was for the use of marijuana or other drugs.

Substance abuse with the aim of easing stress was most often cited for marijuana (76% of teens), prescription pain meds (61%), and sedatives/tranquilizers (55%), the study found.

The findings were published in the Feb. 9 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Source: HealthDay

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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