Drug Abuse More Likely Among High School Dropouts

A recent report released in the United States indicates that drug abuse and alcohol abuse are more likely among people who dropped out of high school. The study goes further to indicate that kids who do not complete school are also much more likely to pick up a smoking habit. This new United States government report is indicating that there is an even stronger link than we imagined between substance abuse and poor academic performance.

StudentStartling Statistics

According to the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, high school seniors who have dropped out of school prior to graduation are much more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink, use marijuana or partake in other illegal drugs.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:

  • Nearly one in every seven students drops out during high school.
  • High school seniors who have dropped out of school between the ages of 16 and 18 are twice as likely to have smoked within the past month as compared to students who continued to attend school.
  • 31 percent of high school seniors who did not receive their diploma were found to be using drugs, as compared to approximately 18 percent of students that did actually finish high school.
  • Approximately 27 percent of all high school drop outs were smoking marijuana and an additional 10 percent of all high school drop outs were abusing prescription drugs of some variety.
  • Of students who actually completed high school or who were still completing high school, only 15 percent used marijuana and only five percent abused prescription drugs.
  • School dropouts also proved to be more likely to partake in alcoholism. Nearly 42 percent of all seniors who did not finish high school were drinkers, and approximately 1/3 of them were regularly engaging in binge drinking.
  • Of students who actually stayed in school, only 35 percent were engaging in drinking and only one fourth had binged on alcohol.

SAMHSA released a news report in early 2013 talking about how rates of alcohol use, cigarette use and drug use are higher in high school drop outs. This study has huge implications because what it means is that students who continue to attend school and those who graduate with GED or a high school diploma are going to be more likely to stay away from substance abuse problems in the long term.

The report released by SAMHSA is considering anyone who claims to have used within the past month to be a current user.

As an example, students who dropped out of high school within the age grouped claimed to be current smokers 56.8 percent of the time. On the other hand, teenagers in the age group who were continuing their education reported to be currently smoking only 22.4 percent of the time.

High school dropouts were also more likely to be using marijuana at current in comparison to those who were continuing their education, at 27.3 percent and 15.3 percent respectively. Finally, high school dropouts were far more likely to be currently misusing prescription drugs or using prescription drugs versus students who were continuing their education, at 9.5 percent and 5.1 percent respectively.

The administrator of the SAMHSA, Pamela S. Hyde said that there are serious implications for the nation’s health in that nearly 1 in every 7 students is dropping out of high school before completion. Students dropping out of school before they achieve a diploma are at such a greater risk for developing substance abuse issues, and this is even more serious when you consider that they are also at risk for other health issues, not having adequate health insurance and falling into poverty as well.

Teens who are struggling with substance abuse problems need help sooner rather than later in order to prevent these substance abuse issues from following them into adulthood. Teens and young adults who are struggling in school or possibly dropping out due to substance abuse need help more than anything, and the help that they need is out there.

Substance abuse can cause dropping out just as dropping out can increase the risk of substance abuse. If you or one of your loved ones is struggling with a substance abuse habit, please know that there is help out there. The right substance abuse treatment program is going to make a huge difference in overcoming the habit and finishing school the right way: sober and healthy.