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Are Our Kids Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol?

Updated on January 16, 2012

Role Model and Support Healthy Activity Addictions, Not Bad Ones.


Dependency of Any Substance is Unhealthy

Why do I think our kids have an addiction problem? Oh I don’t know, could it be when looking through our nation’s addiction related statistics it doesn’t bode well in understanding that many children, like adults have a drug problem. Let’s take a look at the most recognized illegal/legal drug use data and then decide how many of us will escape an addictive habit that could ultimately cause each one of us more pain and suffering than necessary. And just because a depressant or stimulant (liquor, tobacco, prescriptions, illegal drugs, etc.) can be purchased legally/illegally does not mean it can’t become an addictive harmful habit. Or that the product/substance is not causing harm to you or those you care about.

I noted there was a ton of information on legal and illegal drug use and addiction. So I just dove into it and came up with some impressive drug use data. Looking at the DEA Drug Seizure statistics for 2010, the following drug confiscation data seized and measured in kilograms was recorded: Cocaine (29,179 kgs), Heroin (690kgs), Marijuana (722,476kgs), and Methamphetamine (2,067 kgs), Hallucinogens (2,578,935 dosage units). These numbers are indeed alarming statistics. But, it is also acknowledged by all drug enforcement agencies that these numbers only represent a fraction of what’s being used. So really, how do you quantify actual production and use of drugs distributed under the radar?

In 2010, national and state statistics information pertaining to drug use, addiction and drug abuse shows: 22.6 million Americans over the age of 12 have or have used illicit drugs within the last month of the survey being completed. The drug most used by 17.4 million individuals other than alcohol is marijuana; and then followed by painkillers, then hallucinogens and cocaine. Drug overdoses has risen 540% since 1980. Prescription drug abuse is up 500% since 1990. The cost to employer’s employee productivity from drug abuse is 122 billion dollars per year.

Now looking at alcohol as America’s number one legal drug problem, it appears almost none of us can escape being exposed to a legal substance that for many will destroy lives. After all none of us knows who has an addictive predisposition to abuse alcohol or for that matter any other legal or illegal drug.

For many children an alcohol experience begins at a very early stage in life. This proof is easily obtained by simply reviewing a bit of data. For example, at the beginning of the year 2000, an estimated 7 million of our youth from 12 to 20 years old admitted to being drinkers. Another 6.4 million were admitted binge drinkers. Over 6 million children claimed to live with parents that have a drug addiction problem. 56% of students in grades 5 to 12 mention that advertising alcoholic beverages encourages them to drink.

In 2001, surveys showed 25 million Americans admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol and that 23% of our 18-25 year olds self admitted to this fact. Local law enforcement statistics shows us that ~2 million arrests nationwide are made each year due to driving under the influence. Although these statistical numbers are alarming, it would be more alarming because these numbers do not represent the entire alcohol abuse picture. The same is also true of national surveys; many do not self-proclaim their alcohol use, or do not get caught. But one statistic is pretty accurate: the latest National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 17,488 people were killed in vehicular traffic related accidents. Now compare that number to the population of a mid-size town, that’s alarming.

What is the impact to our economy regarding alcohol abuse? Approximately 100 million in health care costs, employment productivity losses, penal system costs, personal injury, property damage and intervention treatment, etc. Unemployed adults are found to be the highest percentage (12.2%) of drinkers between the ages of 26 through 34. Industrial injuries (47%) and fatalities (40%) are directly related to alcohol abuse.

You’ll find much information on the Internet to support the contention that cultural shock, drug use and addiction are inter-related and are greatly affecting behavior. For which many genetically predisposed to addiction will become statistical addicts and mortalities of harmful legal and illegal drugs.

What should you take away from this information? Watch your kids behavioral and consumption habits. Strive to teach balance in consumption, nutrition and fitness activity; as well as calling them on bad behavior. However, you must instill these lessons at an early age. If not, addiction and abuse of legal, including illegal habits may cause ill-health, or lead to acting out with bad behavior. Addiction may not only complicate your child’s life but the dynamics of your family.

It is obvious there is a plethora of addictive legal and illegal products in the market that are easily obtainable for our consumption. Unfortunately when you become addicted to any substance; the potential to abuse other drugs also tend to increase.

And harmful drug dependency not only harms the user, but also harms those with whom they interact, and cost to society when health is impacted, or others are harmed as a result of bad behavior. Be sure to talk to your children and teach them the pitfalls and lessons learned with regard to abuse and potential addiction and detrimental results as a result of such use.


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    • woodamarc profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      The requirement to have two working adults to sustain the household budget is certainly different prior to the mid-70's. And now with health coverage increases and unemployment and housing problems... I totally get the increase in drug use and addiction due to these stress factors. Achieving a changing values society will have a stress and anxiety factor attached to it where a pressure release is necessary. It is the hope that our youth can be well educated on these factors and how it can lead to drug abuse and addiction. Youth education in these areas through our city police programs (e.g., DARE, etc.) is a huge plus for city residents and also a resource challenge. And one that should be defended against bugetary cuts for our kids sake.

    • woodamarc profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Reminds me of the late 70's and early 80's when interest rates were up to 18% and no work could be found for adults and teens. Lots of abuse and addiction during the time and now history repeats itself.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      I agree with Brett - we are a nation of workaholics on the one hand, and for so many other reasons we also "unwind": family issues, social pressures, popular culture, stress and anxiety - it's pretty amazing that all this addiction is going on. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      This is very similar to a hub I write a while back about "why are we drinking so much?". I feel that drug and alcohol use is a result of living costs and not feeling happy about life. Most people feel stuck or undervalued as a member of society at some point, and at these times addiction can sneak in.

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • woodamarc profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Thank you for that input. First of all I'm sorry to about the addiction challenges you face in your relationship. I wish the very best and will pray that the two of you will get through it. Second, the societal acceptance is so true. That is, many children really don't have a choice with who they socialize. But you rolled it up well, the solid foundations built as a child will definitely help to make better choices... Oh Ya, otherwise clobber them:] I like that statement the best. My experience and observation is the same as yours, rescuing them from themselves is next to impossible. They have to want to do it for themselves. Sometimes the best thing you can do for them is to let them fall and stop the enabling. Otherwise many addicts never have a reason to help themselves. I wish you and your family the very best.

    • Broken-One profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for sharing. I was married to a crack addict for 10 years. His addiction started when he was 18 years old - he is now 43. He is a binge user, so he can go long periods of time without using again. But, his behaviors while creeping up to the next relapse is unbearable. It's like he has two personalities - one when clean and the other when relapse is immanent/using. I have never had a drug issue and was so naive to addiction when we first met.

      My oldest grandson is eight, and I have been talking to him about drugs and their effect and college and its effect for a couple of years now. It's almost like brainwashing or mental conditioning. He is a shining star who looks to me for guidance and acceptance, and he gets both from me. But, as babies turn into teenagers - they break away from the cocoon that we build for them. They don't always have the ability to choose the friends that they would like to have. Some, due to societal acceptance are shunned from groups of kids they would like to hang around with, so they fall where the acceptance is. This is where they are most vulnerable. Typically, whatever the group does, the individual does as well.

      But, if they are conditioned as a child - those foundational influences are there for life. We hope that whatever trials they face as teens and young adults, they can pull from that foundation.

      My suggestion is to keep the lines of communication open and when you feel resistance, just clobber them over the head...I'm just kidding. Stay involved in their life. Let them make suggestions on things to do together. Keep them close to the church environment.

      We can only control so much and then have to trust that God will help us.

      Rescuing someone from themselves is next to impossible - It has to be done by the person and for themselves.

    • woodamarc profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Thanks for the comments and concerns. By being responsible parents we can all make a difference in our children's lives.

    • woodamarc profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Your not far off when you question what's in it for the government. Think of it this way... Addiction, drug trafficking, disability, intervention youth programs all require socialized programs. E.g., law enforcement, penal system, medicare, family intervention programs, etc., all need tax payer dollars to sustain operations. And that equates to jobs. Socialized government budgets are dependent on tax dollars. I could list a whole slew of other government tax dependent programs, but I don't need to do that. I do believe by listing approximately 5 government cash cow industries (gov't programs) you can understand people in position of power and control like their jobs and may never really have the incentive to solve the problems that ail our country.

    • woodamarc profile imageAUTHOR

      Marc Woodard 

      6 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      I was inspired to write this because of the huge drug problems I've seen within the last 5 years with my kids and their friends. I don't recall it this bad when I was a kid. Basically, we had the staples of those that used like liquor, beer, marijuana, cigarettes and chewing tobacco. Now there are so many other dangerous drugs out there. It's alarming.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      6 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      I really don't know what the answer is to this problem, but if we are going to save our young people, and in effect, save our future, we must find the answer fast. good work voted up

    • kehussy profile image


      6 years ago from Houston, Texas, USA

      Parents should be extra careful when it comes to kids. If they find out that their kids are indeed addicted, they must take immediate action but they must be very careful too.

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 

      6 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Great information. For many, many years now I have heard that most of the drugs come to America from other countries. I wonder why it is still so easy to get drugs into our country. Like you said that huge enormous amount of drugs they confiscate are only a fraction of what's out there, in every city, town and rural area. How is it that ENORMOUS total inflow of drugs makes it here and into every City, Town and Rural area? I have heard people say that our government does it as a way to profit somehow. I know that sounds like a conspiracy theory but really, how else? Could 'drug runners' really be that smart? I personally don't think so.

      Sorry this hub got me going! Thank you for bringing attention to this subject, Great Work!

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 

      6 years ago

      Very informative article - thank you for doing the research and providing the data. I know that there are many young people in rehabs, detoxes, and 12-step meetings these days. It is alarming to see how young they are, but at least there are places for them to go if they do have an addiction problem.

      You also brought up a very important fact - addiction affects everyone - the addict, the family and their friends. Insanity can take over when in the midst of the disease.

      Thank you for sharing.


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