Young People and Drugs

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Page last updated June 10, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

41. Marijuana Use and Educational Attainment

“Teen marijuana users are approximately twice as likely as non-users to drop out of high school.234 One study found that, compared to students who did not use marijuana at all in the past year, those who used marijuana less than weekly were 2.6 times as likely to be school dropouts (5.8 percent vs. 2.2 percent) and those who used marijuana at least weekly were 5.8 times as likely to be school dropouts (12.8 percent vs. 2.2 percent).235 Students who use marijuana before age 15 are twice as likely as other students to report frequent truancy and three times as likely to leave school before age 16.236 One study found that, by their 40s, individuals who used marijuana in adolescence and young adulthood had more than a third of a year’s less educational attainment than non-users. The more frequent the marijuana use in this age group, the fewer the number of years of educational attainment achieved.”

"Adolescent Substance Use: America's #1 Public Health Problem," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, June 2011), p. 57.
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42. Impact of Parental Incarceration on Young Adults

"RESULTS: Positive, significant associations were found between parental incarceration and 8 of 16 health problems (depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, cholesterol, asthma, migraines, HIV/AIDS, and fair/poor health) in adjusted logistic regression models. Those who reported paternal incarceration had increased odds of 8 mental and physical health problems, whereas those who reported maternal incarceration had increased odds of depression. For paternal incarceration, with the exception of HIV/AIDS, larger associations were found for mental health (odds ratios range 1.43–1.72) as compared with physical health (odds ratios range 1.26–1.31) problems. The association between paternal incarceration and HIV/AIDs should be interpreted with caution because of the low sample prevalence of HIV/AIDs."

Rosalyn D. Lee, Xiangming Fang and Feijun Luo, "The Impact of Parental Incarceration on the Physical and Mental Health of Young Adults." Pediatrics 2013;131;e1188; originally published online March 18, 2013; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0627.
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43. Early Drug Exposure and Later Drug Use

"The teen brain is a work in progress, making it more vulnerable than the mature brain to the physical effects of drugs. The potential for developing substance abuse and dependence is substantially greater when an individual’s first exposure to alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs occurs during adolescence than in adulthood."

Steinberg, L., Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Temple University and author of "You and Your Adolescent: The Essential guide for ages 10 to 25" (personal communication, June 9, 2011), as quoted in "Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, June 2011), p. 13.
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44. Children in the US With a Parent Who Has Ever Been Incarcerated

"The increase in U.S. incarceration rates means that a sizable number of children experience parental incarceration. Between 5 million and 8 million children have had a resident parent (most often a father) incarcerated in jail, state prison, or federal prison, and this number excludes children with parents under other forms of correctional supervision such as probation or parole (Murphey & Cooper, 2015). A growing research literature conceptualizes parental incarceration as an adverse childhood experience (ACE) with considerable deleterious consequences for children's wellbeing (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2015). Children exposed to parental incarceration, compared to their counterparts not exposed to parental incarceration, experience disadvantages across behavioral, educational, and health outcomes (for reviews, see Foster & Hagan, 2015; Johnson & Easterling, 2012; Murray, Farrington, & Sekol, 2012).

"Importantly, given social inequalities in exposure to criminal justice contact, many children of incarcerated parents are a demographically and socioeconomically disadvantaged group even prior to the experience of parental incarceration. For example, parental incarceration is more common among children of disadvantaged race/ethnic groups; about one-fourth (24%) of Black children and one-tenth (11%) of Hispanic children experience parental incarceration by age 17, compared to 4% of White children (Sykes & Pettit, 2014). Parental incarceration is also concentrated among children living in households with incomes below the poverty line, children of unmarried parents, and children residing in disadvantaged neighborhoods (Foster & Hagan, 2015; Wakefield & Wildeman, 2013)."

Kristin Turney, Adverse childhood experiences among children of incarcerated parents, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 89, 2018, Pages 218-225, ISSN 0190-7409, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chil....
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45. Vulnerability of Teens to Effects of Drugs

"The teen brain is a work in progress, making it more vulnerable than the mature brain to the physical effects of drugs. The potential for developing substance abuse and dependence is substantially greater when an individual’s first exposure to alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs occurs during adolescence than in adulthood."

Steinberg, L., Distinguished University Professor and Laura H. Carnell Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Temple University and author of You and Your Adolescent: The Essential guide for ages 10 to 25 (personal communication, June 9, 2011), as quoted in "Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, June 2011), p. 13.
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46. Likelihood That Young People with Diagnosed Mental Health Conditions Will be Put on Long Term Opioid Therapy

"Of the 1,000,453 opioid recipients (81.7%) with at least 6 months of follow-up, 51.1% were female, and the median age was 17 years (interquartile range, 16-18 years). Among these adolescents, the estimated cumulative incidence of LTOT [Long Term Opioid Therapy] after first opioid receipt was 1.1 (95% CI, 1.1-1.2) per 1000 recipients within 1 year, 3.0 (95% CI, 2.8-3.1) per 1000 recipients within 3 years, 8.2 (95% CI, 7.8-8.6) per 1000 recipients within 6 years, and 16.1 (95% CI, 14.2-18.0) per 1000 recipients within 10 years. The prevalence of mental health conditions and treatments in this sample is shown in eTable 3 in the Supplement.

"All mental health conditions and treatments were associated with higher rates of transitioning from a first opioid prescription to long-term therapy. Table 2 provides the estimated incidence of LTOT among those with and without mental health conditions and treatments.Adjusted relative increases in the rate of LTOT ranged from a factor of 1.73 for ADHD [Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder] (hazard ratio [HR], 1.73; 95% CI, 1.54-1.95) to approximately 4-fold for benzodiazepines (HR, 3.88; 95%CI, 3.39-4.45) and nonopioid SUDs [Substance Use Disorders] (HR, 4.02;95%CI, 3.48-4.65) to 6-fold for non benzodiazepine hypnotics (HR, 6.15; 95%CI, 5.01-7.55) and to nearly 9-fold for OUD [Opioid Use Disorder] (HR, 8.90; 95%CI, 5.85-13.54). In addition, relative to no condition, the number of condition types was also associated with higher LTOT rates (1 condition: HR, 2.21; 95% CI, 2.01-2.43; 2 or more conditions: HR, 4.01; 95% CI, 3.62-4.46).

"Given the strong associations for OUD, we explored other mental health factors and opioid receipt among those with preexisting OUD. These adolescents were more likely than
adolescents without OUD to have other mental health conditions and treatments (eTable 4 in the Supplement). For example, 76.1% of adolescents with OUD had other SUDs, 61.0% had depressive disorders, and 52.6% had received an SSRI [Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor]. During follow-up, those with preexisting OUD received opioid drugs similar to those received by adolescents without OUD, although the former were more likely to receive certain opioids (eg, oxycodone and tramadol; eTable 5 in the Supplement). Of those with preexisting OUD, 15.5% filled a prescription for OUD medication treatment during follow-up."

Quinn PD, Hur K, Chang Z, et al. Association of Mental Health Conditions and Treatments With Long-term Opioid Analgesic Receipt Among Adolescents. JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(5):423–430. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.5641
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47. Importance of Family Dinners in Substance Use Prevention

"Compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners per week, those who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to say they expect to try drugs (including marijuana and prescription drugs without a prescription to get high) in the future (17 percent vs. 8 percent)."

"The Importance of Family Dinners VIII: A CASAColumbia White Paper," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (New York, NY: September 2012), p. 7.
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48. Illicit Use of Prescription Drugs

"Abuse of prescription medicine [by teens] remains high, but there are signs that it may be plateauing. Close to one in five teens (17 percent) say they have used a prescription medicine at least once in their lifetime to get high or change their mood. This is slightly, although not significantly, down from 22 percent in 2010 and from 20 percent in 2009. Use of prescription pain medicines, specifically Vicodin or OxyContin, is trending downward. One out of ten teens reports using pain medication to get high in the past year and six percent say they used in the past 30 days – down significantly from 2009 levels."

"The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study: 2011 Parents and Teens Full Report," MetLife Foundation and The Partnership at Drugfree.org (New York, NY: May 2, 2012), p. 13.
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49. Top Concerns Among Adolescents

"Every year teens tell us that tobacco, alcohol and other drugs are the biggest problem facing teens their age. This year, 26 percent of teens surveyed say that alcohol, drugs and tobacco are the most important issue teens face, followed by social pressures [18%] and academic pressures [11%]."

QEV Analytics, Ltd., "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens" (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, August 2012), p. 25.
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50. Parental Incarceration and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

"Children exposed to parental incarceration were more likely to have other ACEs than children not exposed to parental incarceration. For example, only 14.3% of children exposed to parental incarceration had no other ACEs, compared to 72.2% of children not exposed to parental incarceration. Further, among children exposed to parental incarceration, about 28.9% experienced one other ACE (compared to 19.4% of children not exposed to parental incarceration), 21.2% experienced two other ACEs (compared to 5.5%), 16.4% experienced three other ACEs (compared to 1.8%), and 19.3% experienced four or more other ACEs (compared to 1.2%).

"Table 2 presents descriptive statistics of ACEs for two groups of children: those who experienced parental incarceration and those who did not experience parental incarceration. Children exposed to parental incarceration had more ACEs than those not exposed to parental incarceration (2.06 compared to 0.41, p < 0.001). Children exposed to parental incarceration were also more likely to report any ACE (85.7% compared to 27.8%, p < 0.001). Children exposed to parental incarceration were nine times more likely to experience household member abuse (31.9% compared to 3.4%, p < 0.001) and violence exposure (20.3% compared to 2.3%, p < 0.001). They were eight times more likely to experience household member substance problems (45.5% compared to 5.8%, p < 0.001); five times more likely to experience parental death (11.8% compared to 2.5%, p < 0.001); and four times more likely to experience household member mental illness (24.1% compared to 6.4%, p < 0.001) and parental divorce or separation (72.7% compared to 20.5%, p < 0.001)."

Kristin Turney, Adverse childhood experiences among children of incarcerated parents, Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 89, 2018, Pages 218-225, ISSN 0190-7409, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chil....
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