Nearly Half of HS Students Smoke, Drink or Use Drugs

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A discouraging new study says that nearly half of the high school students in the United States currently smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs.

If you think this is just teenage hijinks, consider this -- the study found that 25% of people who used these substances before they turned 18 became addicted, according to a report on WebMD.

“I was surprised at the prevalence of substance use disorders among young people,” said study author Susan E. Foster of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University in New York City.

“Do everything you can to get young people through their teen years without using drugs or alcohol,” she added. “Every year they don’t use drugs or alcohol reduces their risk of negative consequences, such as addiction.”

The study found that of the 46% of high schoolers who are currently drinking, smoking or using drugs, a third meet the medical criteria for addiction.

Overall, 75% of high school students say they have tried cigarettes, alcohol or drugs in their short lifetime.

“Health care providers need to integrate screening for substance abuse into their practice, and treat and refer patients,” she said.

Parents also need to be aware.

“Make sure they know that it doesn’t take a drink or drug to relax,” Foster said. "If you do suspect there is a problem, get help fast because it won’t go away, and will probably exacerbate fast.”

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