Teens are all too often subjected to drugs, alcohol, and smoking on the streets, in their homes, and even at school. Efforts to prevent substance abuse among teens have taken priority over the years as we’ve entered a global crisis with challenges in mental health and opioid crisis due to pandemic. Painting a brighter future for the next generation starts with recognizing the issues at hand and generating solutions geared toward smarter choices among teenagers.

Teen drug use in the United States can highly correlate with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, “In 2019, 37% of US high school students reported lifetime use of marijuana and 22% reported use in the past 30 days.” The CDC also reports Marijuana use can affect a teens developing brain and have negative effects on them including:

  • Coordination issues
  • Educational problems
  • Impeded judgment and problem solving
  • Social life issues and more risky behavior associated with health risk and even teen pregnancy

Along with these issues the CDC reported that “ 14% of high school students reported misusing prescription opioids.” Opioid use among teens is a growing problem. Common opioids that are used by teens include:

  • OxyContin: Often called “Oxy” by teenagers, OxyContin is a prescription medication that contains oxycodone, an active ingredient that helps relieve moderate to severe pain. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies OxyContin as a schedule II controlled substance and it is highly addictive.
  • Vicodin: Vicodin This prescription medication is often used for pain management. It contains hydrocodone, an opioid pain medication and acetaminophen, a pain reliever that is often used to reduce fever. Vicodin is highly addictive and can cause coma, respiratory issues, and other serious health conditions.
  • Heroin: This drug is an illegal opioid which is made from opium in poppy plants. Use of heroin results in euphoria then a feeling of sleepiness and distorted thinking. It can be snorted, smoked, or injected, further spreading infectious disease like HIV.

The opioid epidemic has more teens accessing heroin, as it tends to be less expensive than prescription opioids, which spiked in 2020 during the pandemic. Other dangerous opioids that are used include Percocet and Fentanyl. It is important for educators, healthcare professionals, and parents to be aware of the signs of opioid use which include but are not limited to:

  • Mood swings
  • Decreased social interaction
  • Changes in behavior
  • Decreased appetite
  • Withdrawal symptoms

If a teen is suspected of opioid use, it is important to seek professional care immediately which can help prevent detrimental effects and even drug overdose. The National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is coming up and its purpose is to help prevent substance abuse by having the communities across the nation work together to help teens stay safe. The NDAFW works across healthcare organizations, educational institutions, and scientists.

Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center® has been Arizona’s premier addiction center for over a decade. We understand that all age groups and individuals are influenced by drug abuse in complex ways and are committed to helping our community recover! We want our clients, community, and those who are struggling to have access to support in all forms. Learn more by visiting or call 1-888-NODRUGS.


Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.