Stress driving substance use in American teens, study finds


In a current research revealed within the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), researchers aimed to information the event and subsequent implementation of anti-substance use insurance policies. To this finish, this research investigated the motivations of substance use amongst American adolescents and the individuals with whom they use these substances. Outcomes reveal that stress-related motivators, together with looking for to really feel ‘calm’ or ‘mellow’ and experimentation, have been essentially the most typically reported triggers for substance use in adolescents aged 13 to 18 years.

​​​​​​​Examine: Characteristics of Alcohol, Marijuana, and Other Drug Use Among Persons Aged 13–18 Years Being Assessed for Substance Use Disorder Treatment — United States, 2014–2022. ​​​​​​​Picture Credit score: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock

Whereas most people reported utilizing substances with associates, half of the included respondents have been discovered to bask in prescription drug misuse alone. These findings recommend that efficient stress and psychological well being administration amongst adolescents and youth could considerably scale back first-time drug use. Educating these people on the cons of substance use and emergency procedures when confronted with a possible overdose could enhance drug-related outcomes (particularly mortality) sooner or later.

Why are adolescents the perfect goal group for SUD interventions?

Substance use dysfunction (SUD) is a rising psychological dysfunction characterised by a person’s lack of ability to regulate their consumption of medication (authorized or unlawful), alcohol, and prescription medicines. SUD is treatable typically, although intervention efficacy could be impacted by a variety of elements, together with the length of the situation (the longer the person’s SUD, the tougher it’s to deal with).

Analysis has revealed that the majority instances of substance use start through the adolescent years (13 to 18), placing this age group at excessive threat of SUD, stunted or in any other case negatively impacted mind growth, and deadly overdose threat. Outcomes of cross-sectional research in the USA of America (US) have discovered that the motivations behind substance use have been predominantly stress-related, resembling “to really feel mellow, calm, or relaxed” (73%), “to cease worrying about an issue or to neglect dangerous recollections” (44%), and to fight depressed or anxiousness (40%). The secondary motivation was ‘having enjoyable or experimenting’ (44%).

Makes an attempt to establish the individuals adolescents ‘get excessive with’ noticed that 81% of adolescents devour substances within the firm of associates, whereas 50% reported utilizing alone. These findings spotlight the potential of teaching this age group, each on the demerits of substance use and SUD and in addition on emergency responses within the occasion of an opioid overdose. Naloxone, a Meals and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved opioid antagonist, has been proven to be efficient in reversing opioid overdoses, thereby shopping for time for emergency medical personnel to reach, in flip saving lives.

Concerning the research

Within the current research, researchers aimed to research the motivation and behavioral developments in substance use amongst adolescents aged 13 to 18. Knowledge was acquired from the Nationwide Addictions Vigilance Intervention and Prevention Program’s Complete Well being Evaluation for Teenagers (CHAT), a self-reported on-line questionnaire concentrating on adolescents presently present process SUD interventions.

The newest CHAT evaluation of people between Jan 2014 and September 2022 was included within the research dataset, with classes divided primarily based on kind of substance (alcohol, marijuana, or different prescription or non-prescription medication; six classes), motivation (open-ended; six classes), and individuals with whom substances have been consumed (open-ended; 4 classes). Moreover, ten classes describing substance-use-company have been offered.

Examine findings

Knowledge analyses revealed a complete of 15,963 CHAT respondents, 9,557 (60%) of whom had indulged in substance use over the 30 days previous the evaluation. Of those, 9,543 reported motivations and individuals with whom substances have been used and have been therefore included in downstream analyses. Outcomes spotlight that marijuana was essentially the most generally used substance (84%), adopted by alcohol (49%).

Non-prescription and prescription drug use comprised 21% (n = 2,032) and 19% (n = 1,812) of assessments, respectively, with methamphetamine (8%) and ache remedy (13%) dominating their respective class.

“Total, the commonest causes adolescents reported for utilizing substances have been to really feel mellow, calm, or relaxed (73%), to have enjoyable or experiment (50%), to sleep higher or to go to sleep (44%), to cease worrying about an issue or to neglect dangerous recollections (44%), to make one thing much less boring (41%), and to assist with despair or anxiousness (40%).”

Surprisingly, these findings various considerably by substance class, with alcohol and non-prescription drug use related to enjoyable and experimentation (51 – 55%). Compared, marijuana and pharmaceuticals have been used for stress reduction (76% and 61%, respectively). Alarmingly, 31% of respondents reported resorting to prescription stimulant misuse in an try to remain awake.

“Adolescents mostly used substances with associates (81%), a boyfriend or girlfriend (24%), anybody who has medication (23%), and another person (17%); nevertheless, one-half (50%) reported utilizing alone.”

As within the case of motivation, individuals with whom substances have been used have been additionally noticed to differ considerably primarily based on substance class – 80% of adolescents utilizing marijuana, alcohol, or non-prescription medication reported doing so within the firm of associates. Compared, solely 64% of respondents used prescription remedy with associates. This pattern was reversed in people utilizing alone, with 51% of respondents utilizing prescription remedy alone, whereas solely 26% used alcohol alone.

“Adolescents mostly reported utilizing substances with associates, which presents the chance for bystander intervention within the occasion of an overdose. Almost 70% of deadly adolescent overdoses occurred with a possible bystander current, but typically no bystander response was documented.”


The current research elucidates the motivations of adolescents indulging in substance misuse and the individuals with whom they devour these substances. Findings spotlight that stress-related motivators outcompete enjoyable and experimentation as the first cause for drug misuse, underscoring the necessity for higher psychological well being administration methods, insurance policies, and interventions on this age group.

Analyses of individuals with whom substances have been used reveal an alarming pattern – greater than 50% of adolescents misusing prescription opioids did so alone, growing the danger of deadly overdoses. Whereas marijuana, alcohol, and non-prescription remedy have been often consumed within the presence of associates (81%), the excessive noticed fee of bystander non-responsiveness throughout deadly overdoses highlights the necessity for intensive adolescent schooling, each to tell people in regards to the harms and demerits of SUD, in addition to to show them the perfect apply (e.g., naloxone administration) within the occasion of an overdose of their neighborhood.

Journal reference:

  • Connolly S, Govoni TD, Jiang X, et al. Traits of Alcohol, Marijuana, and Different Drug Use Amongst Individuals Aged 13–18 Years Being Assessed for Substance Use Dysfunction Remedy — United States, 2014–2022. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2024;73:93–98, DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7305a1,
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