Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Youth substance abuse treatment for alcohol and marijuana

To follow up with an earlier entry about King County youth substance abuse treatment trends . . .

Youth treatment admissions are different from adult admissions
While marijuana and alcohol are the top two drugs used by youth admitted into treatment, with marijuana way ahead of alcohol, adult treatment admissions tell a different story. Among adults admitted into treatment in King County, alcohol is by far the primary drug. Illegal drugs round out the top five: cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and meth.

Most people who are addicted to alcohol and marijuana start using as youth
Of all people who entered treatment in King County in 2008, 81% of those who were admitted for alcohol addiction and 92% of those who were admitted for marijuana addiction started using the substances before the age of 18.

Not only does this information point toward the need for effective prevention programs among youth, it points to the importance of including youth substance abuse prevention in our conversations about marijuana decriminalization and legalization. Especially considering that the primary way that youth access needed substance abuse treatment is through the juvenile justice system. Our conversations should include how we, as a community, can prevent youth substance abuse and provide youth with access to treatment before they are in trouble with the law.

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