For Young Adults age 17-25

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Characteristics of Young Adult (Aged 18-25) and Youth (Aged 12-17) Admissions - A Study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation facilities continue to play a major role in the improvement of our young people. A recent study released by The Drug and Alcohol Services Information System reveals some valuable facts about drug use among teenagers age 12 to 17 and young adults age 18 to 25 and their admittance into rehabilitation centers.

The report centers on teens and young adults admitted to drug treatment facilities. Of the 1.9 million Americans admitted to a treatment facility, almost 30% were below the age of 25. Over half of the 12-17 year olds (called youth by the study) were admitted for marijuana use and marijuana and alcohol made up the majority of 18-25 year olds (young adults).

Marijuana Use

Sixty-four percent of kids ages 12 to 17 were admitted for marijuana use. Only 24 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25 were admitted for marijuana use. Within the group of young adult admissions, marijuana abuse was more likely to be reported by those admitted to a treatment facility aged 18 to 21 than those aged 22 to 25. The report found 33 to 22 percent respectively.

Alcohol Use

Alcohol use was the major cause of admissions into drug treatment facilities for young adults ages 18 to 25. Thirty-two percent of young adults were admitted because of alcohol abuse, while only 19 percent of teenagers 12 to 17 were admitted because of alcohol abuse.

Frequency of Use

According to the report, drug and alcohol use is not just occasional use or recreational use meaning it is only done socially at parties. The findings show that 74 percent of young adults (18 to 25 year olds) used opiates, such as heroine or LSD, daily in the month prior to being admitted. Forty-five percent of the youth (those 12 to 17 years old) had used opiates daily as well. Young adult admissions for marijuana were more likely to have had no use in the past month than were youth admissions for marijuana (37 vs. 30 percent).


According to the report, young adult admissions were more likely to be White than youth admissions (69 vs. 58 percent) and less likely to be Black (14 vs. 19 percent) or Hispanic (12 vs. 17 percent). The number of females admitted into the treatment facilities was small compared to that of the males admitted.

The Positive

The police and criminal justice system as a whole are aware of the problems of alcohol and drug use among teenagers and young adults. The criminal justice system was the principal source of referral to treatment for 47 percent of young adult admissions and 52 percent of youth admissions. These young adults were able to find help at a drug treatment facility.

For more information on the report, visit online at

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