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SAMHSA News - March/April 2008, Volume 16, Number 2


Stimulant Use and Delinquent Behavior

More than half a million adolescents age 12 to 17 used stimulants nonmedically in the past year, according to a new report from SAMHSA.

Across adolescent age groups, the rate of past-year nonmedical stimulant use increased from 0.7 percent among youth age 12 or 13 to 3.3 percent among those age 16 or 17.

The report, Nonmedical Stimulant Use, Other Drug Use, Delinquent Behaviors, and Depression among Adolescents, examines the nonmedical use of stimulants, like methylphenidate and methamphetamine, among youth age 12 to 17 and its association with other illicit drug use, delinquent activity, and major depressive episodes (MDEs).

Types of Behavior

In 2005 and 2006, an estimated annual average of 8.7 million youth age 12 to 17 (34.5 percent) engaged in at least one of six types of delinquent behaviors in the past year:

  • Got into a serious fight at school or work

  • Got into a group fight

  • Carried a handgun

  • Sold illegal drugs

  • Stole anything worth more than $50

  • Attacked someone with intent to cause serious injury.

Youth who used stimulants nonmedically in the past year were more likely to have participated in each of the six delinquent behaviors in the past year compared with other youth.

For example, more than twice the number of youth who used stimulants nonmedically in the past year got into a serious fight compared with youth who did not use stimulants nonmedically in the past year (47.2 versus 22.5 percent).

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Other Findings

In 2005 and 2006, youth age 12 to 17 who used stimulants nonmedically in the past year were more likely to have used other illicit drugs—e.g., marijuana, pain relievers, and inhalants—in the past year compared with youth who did not use stimulants nonmedically in the past year (see chart).

An estimated 2.1 million (8.3 percent) youth experienced at least one MDE in the past year. Youth who used stimulants nonmedically in the past year were more likely to have experienced a past-year MDE than youth who did not use stimulants nonmedically in the past year (22.8 versus 8.1 percent).

All findings presented are annual averages based on combined 2005 and 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) data.

The full report, Nonmedical Stimulant Use, Other Drug Use, Delinquent Behaviors, and Depression among Adolescents, is available for free download from SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies Web site at http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k8/stimulants/depression.pdf.

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Percentages of Youth Age 12 to 17 Using Illicit Drugs
in the Past Year, by Past-Year Nonmedical
Stimulant Use: 2005 and 2006

  Among Youth Who Used Stimulants Nonmedically Among Youth Who Did Not Use Stimulants Nonmedically
Marijuana 70.2 2.1
Pain Relievers 56.5 6.0
Hallucinogens 34.2 1.9
Tranquilizers 29.8 1.4
Inhalants 27.5 4.0
Cocaine 24.1 1.2
Sedatives 7.5 0.3
Heroin 3.2 0.1

Source: SAMHSA, Office of Applied Studies. (February 28, 2008). The NSDUH Report: Nonmedical Stimulant Use, Other Drug Use, Delinquent Behaviors, and Depression among Adolescents.

 

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