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Surgeon General's Report on Addiction

Drug use is a significant problem for teens in the United States, with 40% of 12th grade students using drugs at least once in the past year. Despite the prevalence, however, many teens do not understand the true dangers that can arise through drug use or how challenging treating addiction can be.

The following statistics are sourced from the 2016 Surgeon General's report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report. Supplemental statistics are from Monitoring the Future 2016.

Information is available on a wide range of popular substances, including:


Alcohol continues to be the most widely used substance by teens, with over half of high school seniors trying alcohol at least once in the past year. Addiction is both psychological and physical in nature, and overcoming alcoholism can be a lifelong struggle. Behavioral therapies including skill development, building a strong support system, setting reachable goals, and identifying and avoiding triggers that may cause relapse are often used throughout rehabilitation. Many abusers benefit form medical intervention as well, including use of drugs that cause unpleasant reactions when combined with alcohol, like Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram. Learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment program.

Alcohol - Surgeon General Report

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Cocaine is a highly addictive substance derived from the leaves of the coca plant and is often sold on the street in two primary forms: crack cocaine and free base cocaine. The FDA has not approved any medications for cocaine addiction specifically, although medical intervention may be utilized to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Behavioral therapies suggested by the Surgeon General include CBT therapy, community reinforcement, The Matrix Model, 12-step facilitation therapy, and contingency management. Learn more about our cocaine treatment program.

Surgeon Generals Report - Cocaine

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GHB, or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, is a depressant that is prescribed to treat narcolepsy, or "sleep attacks". Prescriptions such as Xyrem are legal while other forms remain illegal and unapproved for use. When abused, it is often consumed with alcohol and can cause euphoria and lowered inhibitions. While use is low – only 1.2 million Americans, or .04%, have tried GHB – addiction is still a possibility. The Surgeon General has approved benzodiazepines as treatment for GHB addiction but behavioral therapy is not recommended.

Surgeon Generals Report - GHB

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Heroin is an opiate made from morphine that is derived from the seed of the Asian opium poppy plant. Addiction is extremely serious, especially with the rise in overdose rates due to increased consumption and the heightened presence of fentanyl in laced batches. Medications recommended to treat heroin addiction include Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone. Behavioral therapy can also prove effective, with suggested therapies including contingency management and 12-step facilitation therapy. If you suspect heroin abuse, it must be treated immediately. Learn more about our heroin addiction treatment.

Heroin Drug Facts -Surgeon General

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Frequently involving household products that can be inhaled for a quick high, inhalants include aerosols, solvents, and gases as well as prescribed nitrites used to treat chest pains. They can be classified into four types: volatile solvents, aerosols, gases, and nitrites. Use tends to be heavy, as each dose only yields several minutes of intoxication. As such, inhalants can be very quickly fatal. Due to the nature of abuse, treatment is highly suggested. Learn more about inhalant abuse on our addiction treatment page.

Surgeon Generals Report - Inhalants

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Ketamine is a psychedelic dissociative drug that causes intense hallucinations. The high from ketamine often manifests as a dream-like state in which users feel detached from reality. Despite risks associated with ketamine use, there are no FDA-approved medications for abuse of ketamine or other dissociative drugs. Additionally, there is no current recommended behavioral therapy for ketamine addiction.

Surgeon Generals Report - Ketamine

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LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is a hallucinogen made from lysergic acid. Lysergic acid is found in ergot, a fungus that grows on grains. When consumed, it can cause hours of hallucinations and disorientation. As with ketamine and other dissociative drugs, the Surgeon General does not recommend a specific medication or behavioral therapy model in the treatment of LSD addiction. To learn more about LSD's effects, how easily it can be procured, signs and symptoms of abuse, and our treatment methods, please visit our LSD drug page.

Surgeon Generals Report - LSD

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Methamphetamine, more commonly known as meth or crystal meth, is a stimulant amphetamine drug. Due to the strong euphoric effects in which users feel a rush of confidence, hyperactivity, and motivation, meth is extremely addictive with dependency forming after only several uses. Meth is most commonly produced using over-the-counter medications and household items. The cooking process can be extremely toxic, and, as the drug is very strong and often made without regulation, overdose is common. Visit our crystal meth page to learn more about addiction and treatment.

Surgeon General's Drug Facts - Methamphetamine

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Over-the-counter Prescriptions

Over-the-counter medications are drugs sold at pharmacies and available without a prescription. Numerous OTC medications, like Dextromethorphan or DXM, can provide a psychoactive high when taken in large doses. Due to the risk of overdose, some drug stores are now verifying and tracking state I.D. for purchase of cough syrups and cold medicines that contain DXM. There is no recommended treatment for OTC medication abuse.

Over The Counter Cough Medicine Surgeon General's Facts

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Phencyclidine, or PCP, is a dissociative street drug popular among teenage users. Developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic pharmaceutical but removed from the market in 1965, PCP functions as a NMDA reception antagonist and is addictive with repeated use. Due to the danger of side effects in high doses, PCP is an illegal substance with no medical benefits. There are no recommended treatments for PCP addiction by the Surgeon General.

PCP - Surgeon General's Drug Facts

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Prescription Opioids

A class of prescription medications with a similar chemical composition to heroin and other opiates, prescription opiates are generally used to treat severe pain following medical and surgical procedures. Opioids work on GABA receptors in the brain to diminish pain signals, triggering feelings of lightness and euphoria. Despite medically-approved use, prescription opioids are frequently abused due to the pleasurable effects on the body. Improper use is extremely dangerous to health, especially when combined with alcohol. In 2014 alone, 19,000 individuals in the U.S. died through causes related to opioid abuse and addiction. Learn more about opioid treatment for teens.

Prescription Opioids - Teen Drug Abuse - Surgeon General's Report

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Prescription Sedatives

A class of medications used to relax and sedate the body, prescription sedatives come in numerous different forms, including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and sleep medications. These drugs do not provide the euphoric feelings common in stimulants and pain medications but rather facilitate relaxation and a reduction in anxiety. Teens often take these medications to relieve pressure and unwind, but many prescription sedatives are deceptively addictive. Currently, there are no recommended drug or behavioral therapies for this class of medication.

Surgeon General's Drug Facts - Sedatives

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Prescription Stimulants

Frequently abused by teenagers as performance aids during study sessions and exams, prescription stimulants include Amphetamine and Methylphenidate, both of which are commonly used to treat ADD and ADHD. When under the influence of stimulants, teens feel energized, motivated, and are able to focus better, leading to increased academic performance. Despite these side effects, prescription stimulants can be highly addictive, leading to a host of negative side effects like insomnia, heart problems, and anger. While there are no drug therapies for prescription stimulant addiction, some behavioral strategies used to treat similar substances, like CBT therapy, may be effective.

Surgeon General's Drug Facts - Prescription Stimulants

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Steroids are lab-made chemical substances that mimic natural hormones within the body. Synthetic testosterone promotes muscle development and growth, leading to abuse by teenage athletes who wish to bulk up or improve appearance. Unfortunately, long-term use can leave permanent effects on the body, including increased risk of prostate cancer. Hormone therapy can be used to treat the effects of steroids. Learn more about steroid addiction treatment for your teen.

Steroids - Surgeon General's Drug Facts

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Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids, also known as synthetic marijuana or spice, are inorganic chemicals with a similar makeup to THC that can trigger marijuana-like responses within the body, including relaxation, hallucination, and paranoia. Unlike marijuana, however, synthetic substitutes are not derived from nature and thus contain unregulated ingredients. Because of the chemical base and uncontrolled manufacturing process, it is often combined with a variety of dangerous substances that can make use extremely dangerous. This has resulted in increased levels of abuse and overdose among teen users.

Synthetic Cannabinoids - Surgeon General's Report

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Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as bath salts, are derived from a substance found naturally in the khat plant. A new form of psychoactive drug that is known for intense effects, cathinones are structurally and functionally similar to amphetamines and cocaine. Bath salts are often used as club drugs, taken by teens at parties, music festivals, and raves. However, due to the strength of many of these substances, addiction and overdose is common. The Surgeon General does not recommend any medical treatments for addiction to synthetic cathinones but does support behavioral therapies like CBT, contingency management, and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET).

Synthetic Cathinones - Surgeon General's Report on Addiction

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Signs of drug use in your teen can be frightening, but help is here. Please contact Teen Treatment Center today at (844) 757-6484 to learn more about what our licensed, certified facility has to offer.

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