Blog Teen Drug Abuse in Washington State Higher than National Average

Teen Drug Abuse in Washington State Higher than National Average

Young man smoking a cigarette with a girl in the background drinking a beer.

You likely hear a lot these days about the prescription opioid epidemic and the impact on adults in the state. Washington State drug rehab facilities are filled with people, and the problem is difficult to get a handle on as the numbers continue to rise.

What you might not realize is many of these addictions kick off in the teenage years, as teens explore substances and then get hooked. The problems can easily last into adulthood, which is why early intervention is so important.

This article examines teen drug abuse trends in Washington State. How do they compare with national averages? Which drugs are most abused by teens in Washington State? When are teens beginning drug abuse habits in the state? Where can teens go for help?

National Averages vs. Washington State for Substance Use

The Behavioral Health Barometer for Washington State has some sobering teen drug abuse statistics. It turns out that Washington kids are using drugs and alcohol at a higher rate than the national average. According to the report, marijuana use in teens aged 12 to 17 in Washington State has been consistently higher than the rest of the country since 2011.

Here is how the numbers break out:

  • From 2011 to 2012 the national rate of marijuana usage in teens ages 12 to 17 was 7.5 percent. In Washington, it was 9.4 percent.
  • From 2012 to 2013 the national rate was 7.1 percent. In Washington State, it was 9.8 percent.
  • From 2013 to 2014 the national rate was 7.2 percent and the number in Washington State went up for the third year in a row to 10.1 percent.
  • Finally, in the last year recorded (2015), the national rate held steady at 7.2 percent and Washington State dropped slightly to 9.2 percent. However, that was still higher than the rest of the country.

During that same time period, the rate of cigarette smoking and alcohol use in this age bracket in Washington State stayed consistent with the federal level. However, the report suggested that an average of 337,000 Washington teenagers developed an alcohol use disorder during the timeframe tracked.

The statistics from the report went on to track the number of adolescents that tried alcohol or marijuana for the first time during the years tracked. On average 8.4 percent of all Washington State teens tried alcohol for the first time, 6.2 percent tried marijuana for the first time, and another 4.2 percent tried cigarettes.

The study also tracked the incidence of heroin consumption in teenagers aged 12 and up. Each year during the years tracked, there were 24,000 teenagers aged 12 or older that used heroin. This is on par with the national average by state.

Washington State Drug Rehab and Teenage Substance Use

Young woman sitting on a chair holding her head in her hands.

While drug abuse at any age is dangerous, for teens, these substances can damage the developing brain at a crucial time during their growth. While alcohol is one of the drugs used most frequently, in fact, it is also damaging to brain development. Fortunately, there are addiction treatment resources in Washington standing by to help. To learn more about admissions to our residential treatment facility, contact us.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.