As the home of many of the world’s leading technology companies, Silicon Valley prides itself on setting trends, not following them. Recently released statistics on teen substance abuse indicate that this is not always a good thing.
According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NS-DUH), the prevalence of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco abuse among teenagers in the United States continues to decline. Unfortunately, this positive national trend does not appear to reflect reality in northern California, where the rate of teen alcohol abuse remains troublingly high.
For example, a survey of young people in Santa Clara County, which contains San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, revealed that 44 percent of high school seniors and 28 percent of juniors had abused alcohol at least once in the previous 30 days. Twenty percent of juniors also reported having engaged in binge drinking at least once during the same time period.
A Persistent Problem
Unfortunately, the teen substance abuse problem in northern California is not limited to alcohol abuse. Various studies have found the following:
- 47 percent of high school seniors and juniors have smoked marijuana in the past 30 days
- 8 percent of high school juniors have abused cocaine at least once in their lives
- 13 percent of high school juniors have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose
Of course, the abuse of prescription drugs, primarily opioid-based painkillers, is not limited to northern California teens. While many forms of substance abuse have declined among adolescents throughout the nation in recent years, rates of prescription drug abuse have skyrocketed.
The epidemic of prescription drug abuse has been fueled by many factors, including ease of access to these substances and the misguided belief that their legitimate medical uses make them safer than other commonly abused drugs. The harsh reality is that prescription drug abuse poses considerable dangers to adolescents as well as adults. And when prescription drugs are abused in combination with alcohol or other substances, the potential for significant harm increases exponentially.
Among the many reasons why northern California’s teen substance abuse problem is alarming is that it portends continued problems that can follow these young people throughout their adult lives.
Experts have long noted that early involvement with alcohol or other substances of abuse is associated with a higher likelihood of substance abuse struggles later in life. Thus, preventing young people from engaging in substance abuse does not only protect them from immediate harm, but it can significantly reduce their risk for drug-related problems in the years and decades to come.
Co-Occurring Mental Health Challenges
Perhaps not surprisingly, the prevalence of teen substance abuse seems to be accompanied by high rates of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. The most recent edition of the biannual California Health Kids survey indicates that about 33 percent of 11th grade students throughout the state have experienced chronic sadness or hopelessness in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Depression and anxiety are common co-occurring disorders among individuals who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. In some cases, the individuals begin to abuse alcohol or other drugs as a means of self-medicating or numbing their psychological distress, while in other cases the devastation of a substance use disorder can cause symptoms of depression or anxiety. Regardless of the initial cause-effect relationship between these disorders, when they are left untreated the combined impact of their continued presence can be devastating.
As is the case with teen substance abuse, providing proper treatment to adolescents has the dual benefit of eliminating immediate harm while also preventing continued damage later in life.
When adolescents and young adults struggle with substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety, it is essential that they receive comprehensive care at a program that is capable of identifying and addressing both the substance abuse problem and the mental health issues. As noted previously, substance abuse and mental health issues can impact each other in a variety of ways, and failing to provide proper treatment for either type of challenge can undermine a young person’s ability to make a healthy transition from adolescence into adulthood.
About The Camp Recovery Center
Housed on 25 serene acres amid the majestic redwoods of northern California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, The Camp Recovery Center provides premier residential and outpatient treatment services for adolescents and adults who have been struggling with substance abuse, chemical dependency, and certain co-occurring mental health disorders.
At The Camp, adolescents and adults follow personalized treatment plans that have been developed according to their unique strengths, needs, and goals. All care within our highly structured and closely supervised program is provided by compassionate professionals who are dedicated to providing world-class care in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.
Founded in 1984, The Camp Recovery Center is licensed by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs and is certified by the Commission of Rehab Facilities (CARF).