Top Menu

Addiction to Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco Most Common Mental Health Problem in Teens


Addiction to drugs, alcohol and tobacco are the most common mental health problems in teenagers, a new government report concludes. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the most commonly diagnosed problem overall in youth ages 3 to 17, NBC News reports.

The findings, from a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found almost 7 percent of children under 18 are diagnosed with ADHD, while 3.5 percent have behavioral problems and 1.1 percent have autism.

An estimated one million teenagers abuse drugs or alcohol, and more than 695,000 are addicted to tobacco, the CDC found. The agency found during 2010-2011, a total of 4.2 percent of teens were dependent on or abused alcohol in the past year. An estimated 4.7 percent of teens had an illicit drug use disorder in the past year.

Use of illicit drugs during the past month varied by age. Among teens ages 12 to 13, 1.3 percent used marijuana, compared with 6.7 percent of 14- to 15-year-olds and 15.1 percent of 16- to 17-year-olds.

“This first report of its kind documents that millions of children are living with depression, substance use disorders, ADHD and other mental health conditions,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “No parent, grandparent, teacher or friend wants to see a child struggle with these issues. It concerns us all. We are working to both increase our understanding of these disorders and help scale up programs and strategies to prevent mental illness so that our children grow to lead productive, healthy lives.”

3 Responses to this article

  1. Victoria - / November 20, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    The sooner you take your children to see doctor and have rehab immediately, the less damage occur in your children both physically and mentally.

  2. Andrew / May 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    This is a horribly misleading headline, as addiction is not a “mental health problem,” and it is quite disappointing to see the director of the CDC classify it as such. Addiction is it’s own disease. Mental health plays a role in addiction, but addiction has biological components that other mental health issues do not.

  3. Richard / May 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Andrew’s comment is accurate but not complete. Addiction can/often co-occurs with mental health issues like depression, adhd, and/or ptsd. For example, kids are often ‘self medicating’ with marijuana to try to combat depression. Of course, THC is actually a CNS depressant so it gradually/ultimately worsens depression rather than helps it. As a result, the use of marijuana by such individuals becomes self defeating.

Leave a Reply

Please read our comment policy and guidelines before you submit a comment. Your email address will not be published. Thank you for visiting

− 5 = three

Reproduction in whole or in part of this publication is strictly prohibited without prior consent. Photographic rights remain the property of Join Together and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. For reproduction inquiries, please e-mail