Youth and Alcohol & Illicit Drug Treatment 

bulletList of all OAS reports on youth

bulletHighlights of OAS reports on youth and treatment:

The DASIS Report: Adolescent Admissions Reporting Inhalants, 2006  Based on SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), adolescents aged 12 to 17 accounted for 8% of admissions to substance abuse treatment in 2006; however, they represent 48% of all admissions reporting inhalants.  Females comprised a larger proportion of adolescent admissions reporting inhalants than of adolescent admissions not reporting inhalants (41% vs. 30%).  In 2006, 45% of adolescent admissions reporting inhalants had a concurrent psychiatric disorder in contrast to only 29% of their counterparts who did not report inhalants.

Combining data from the 2003-2004 SAMHSA's National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies was able to describe the demographic characteristics of youth who needed substance abuse treatment, those who perceived a need for substance abuse treatment, those who received treatment, and the treatment gap. The treatment gap is the unmet need for substance abuse treatment. Based on SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.5 million youths (6.1% youths aged 12 to 17) were classified as needing alcohol treatment in the past year and about 111,000 youth (7.2% of those needing alcohol treatment) received specialty treatment for alcohol in the past year. Specialty substance use treatment is defined as inpatient or outpatient treatment received at drug or alcohol rehabilitation facilities or mental health centers, or inpatient hospital treatment. About 1.4 million youths (5.4%) were classified as needing illicit drug use treatment in the past year and 124,000 (9.1% of those needing illicit drug treatment) received specialty treatment for an illicit drug in the past year. Youths aged 12 to 17 who were in need of substance use treatment in the past year and did not receive treatment were not likely to perceive a need for substance use treatment. See The NSDUH Report:  Substance Use Treatment Need among Adolescents, 2003-2004

Based on SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), young adults aged 18 to 25 accounted for 21% and youth aged 12 to 17 accounted for 8% of the 1.9 million admissions to substance abuse treatment reported to TEDS in 2004.  Young adults aged 18-25 were less likely than youths aged 12-17 to be admitted with marijuana as their primary substance of abuse (27% vs. 64%).  The criminal justice system was the principal source of referral to treatment for 47% of young adult admissions compared to 52% of youth admissions to substance abuse treatment. About 48% of all TEDS substance abuse treatment admissions in 2004 were in the 28 States that provided data on a psychiatric problem in addition to an alcohol or drug problem for their treatment admissions. Based on this TEDS supplemental data set, 17% of young adults had a psychiatric problem in addition to substance abuse compared with 20% of the youth admissions for substance abuse treatment. See The DASIS Report: Characteristics of Young Adult (Aged 18-25) and Youth (Aged 12-17) Admissions, 2004

 Based on SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), the average age of first illicit drug use among admissions for substance abuse treatment changed between 1993 and 2003. The average age of first use of any illicit drug among substance abuse treatment admissions showed a slight decrease from age 18.8 in 1993 to age 18.6 in 2003. Among substance abuse treatment admissions whose earliest reported drug of abuse at admission was stimulants, opiates, or cocaine, the average age of first use rose between 1993 and 2003 (for stimulants from age 18.5 to age 19.7; for opiates from age 21.0 to age 22.1; and for cocaine from age 22.5 to age 22.7).  For marijuana, however, it decreased. The average age of first use among substance abuse treatment admissions whose earliest reported drug of abuse was marijuana decreased from age 15.1 in 1993 to age 14.6 in 2003. While the average age of first use of any drug remained the same or decreased between 1993 and 2003 for all age groups, the percentage of substance abuse treatment admissions starting drug use before age 13 increased for all age groups except those age 18-24 at treatment admission. Criminal justice was the only admissions referral source that had a decrease in the average age of first use of any illicit drug. The average age of first use of any illicit drug for admissions referred by the criminal justice system decreased from age 17.6 in 1993 to age 16.8 in 2003. See The DASIS Report: Age of First Use among Admissions for Drugs: 1993 & 2003

An estimated 142,701 alcohol-related emergency department (ED) visits reported to SAMHSA's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) system were made by patients aged 12 to 20.  Nearly half (42%) of drug-related ED visits among patients aged 12 to 20 involved alcohol.  Patients aged 18 to 20 were approximately 3 times as likely as patients aged 12 to 17 to have an alcohol-related ED visit.  ED visits involving alcohol with other drugs were almost 2 times as likely as visits involving only alcohol to result in admission to the hospital for inpatient care (19% vs. 10%).  See The DAWN Report:  Emergency Department Visits Involving Underage Drinking

Of the approximately 78,000 admissions aged 12 to 17 in the 26 States that reported presence or absence of co-occurring problems to SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), about 16,000 (21%) were admissions with a co-occurring psychiatric problem in addition to an alcohol and/or drug problem. Adolescent admissions with co-occurring disorders were more likely to be female than adolescent admissions for only substance use disorders (38% vs. 28%). Nearly three-quarters of adolescent admissions with co-occurring disorders were White (72%) compared to half of adolescent admissions for only substance use disorders (51%). Criminal justice system referrals for treatment were the most common source of referral for both adolescent admissions with co-occurring disorders (48%) and adolescent admissions for only substance use disorders (57%). See The DASIS Report:  Adolescents with Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders:  2003

Among the 1.9 million admissions reported to SAMHSA's 2002 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), more (56%) reported the abuse of multiple substances (polydrug use) than abuse of any single substance. Alcohol was the most common substance reported (76%) by the polydrug admissions, marijuana was second (55%), followed by cocaine (48%), opiates (27%) and other drugs (26%). Younger admissions were more likely to report polydrug abuse than older admissions: 65% of those younger than age 20 reported polydrug abuse compared with 41% of those aged 45 or older. See The DASIS Report:  Polydrug Admissions: 2002

All substance abuse treatment admissions increased 23% between 1992 and 2002. The number of adolescent treatment admissions, however, increased 65% (from 95,000 admissions in 1992 to 156,000 in 2002) and accounted for 8% of all admissions reported to SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) in 2002. Between 1992 and 2002, adolescent substance abuse treatment admissions reporting marijuana as the primary substance increased from 23% to 64%; while substance abuse treatment admissions reporting alcohol as the primary substance decreased from 56% to 20% of all adolescent substance abuse treatment admissions. In 2002, more than half (54%) of adolescent substance abuse admissions were referred to substance abuse treatment through the criminal justice system compared with 40% in 1992.  See The DASIS Report:  Adolescent Treatment Admissions: 1992 and 2002

Based on SAMHSA's 2000 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), about 10 percent (15,000) of substance abuse admissions aged 18 or younger were referred by schools.   Four States had rates of at least twice the national average of school referrals:  South Carolina (32%), Hawaii (28%), New Hampshire (25%) and Virginia (22%).  In four States, school referrals made up 2% or less of youth substance abuse admissions:  Montana, Nevada, Missouri, and North Dakota.  See The DASIS Report:  Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions Referred by Schools, 2000.

In 2001, 60% of the 112,000 substance abuse treatment admissions aged 18-20 reported to SAMHSA's Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), involved alcohol. Admissions aged 18-20 for alcohol only were more likely to have been referred by the criminal justice system (70%) than admissions for alcohol with a secondary drug (56%).  Alcohol only treatment admissions aged 18-20 were less likely to have started using alcohol prior to the age of 13 than admissions for alcohol with a secondary drug (12% vs. 23%).  See The DASIS Report: Treatment Admissions for Primary Alcohol Abuse Among Youth Aged 18-20; 2001  

Based on SAMHSA's 2002 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS), 7 percent served primarily clients younger than 18 years.  Adolescent facilities were more likely than adult facilities to offer special programs for clients with co-occurring substance abuse and psychological problems.  In adolescent facilities, the majority of clients were treated for both alcohol and drug abuse problems.  About 8 percent of the clients in adolescent facilities were treated for only alcohol abuse and not drug abuse compared with 22 percent in adult facilities.    See The DASIS Report: Facilities Primarily Serving Adolescents: 2002.

In 2000, Hispanic females aged 12 to 17 were at higher risk for suicide than other youths.  Only 32 percent of Hispanic female youths at risk for suicide during the past year, however, received mental health treatment during this same time period.  See The NHSDA Report:  Risk of Suicide Among Hispanic Females Aged 12 to 17.

Among marijuana treatment admissions for youth, 59 percent were white, 23 percent were Black, 12 percent were Hispanic, 2 percent were Asian/Pacific Islanders,  and 2 percent were American Indian and Alaska Natives.  See The DASIS Report: Youth Marijuana Admissions by Race and Ethnicity.

The number of Asian and Pacific Islander adolescent substance abuse treatment admissions increased by 52 percent between 1994 and 1999.  See The DASIS Report: Asian and Pacific Islander Adolescents in Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions, 1999.

Among juvenile correctional facilities, 37 percent provided on-site substance abuse treatment and 59 percent conducted drug testing.  See The DASIS Report: Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Juvenile Correctional Facilities.

By 1999, more than half of all  adolescent marijuana admissions were referred through the criminal justice system.  Adolescent marijuana admissions through the criminal justice system increased at a higher rate than admissions through other sources.   See The DASIS Report: Treatment Referral Sources for Adolescent Marijuana Users.

By 1998, almost half (49 percent) of all youth treatment admissions were through the criminal justice system. This represented a significant increase from the 39 percent referred through the criminal justice system in 1993.  See The DASIS Report:  Coerced Treatment Among Youths:  1993 to 1998.

More than half of 1999 adolescent admissions involving inhalant abuse also involved both alcohol and marijuana.  See The DASIS Report: Adolescent Admissions Involving Inhalants.

This page was last updated on December 30, 2008.