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ARCHIVED: Adolescent Health Initiative - Substance Abuse
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 Alcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and is also a factor in approximately 41% of all deaths from motor vehicle crashes.

  • Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with approximately 79,000 deaths between 2000-2005.1
  • Among youth, the use of alcohol and other drugs has also been linked to unintentional injuries, physical fights, academic and occupational problems, and illegal behavior.2
  • Long-term alcohol misuse is associated with liver disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological damage as well as psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and antisocial personality disorder.3
  • Current alcohol use among high school students remained steady from 1991 to 1999 and then decreased from 50% in 1999 to 42% in 2009. In 2009, 72.5% of 9th – 12th grade students reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days, and 24.2% of these students reported episodic heavy or binge drinking.4
  • Zero tolerance laws, in all states, make it illegal for youth under age 21 years to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system (i.e., with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) ≥0.02 g/dL).5, 6
  • In 2009, 9.7% of high school students reported driving a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol. In addition, 28.3% of students reported riding in a car or other vehicle during the past 30 days driven by someone who had been drinking alcohol.7

Every day about 3,600 American youth aged 12–17 years try their first cigarette. It is estimated that smoking causes 443,000 deaths each year in the United States.

  • Tobacco use, including cigarette smoking, cigar smoking, and smokeless tobacco use, is the single leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Each year smoking causes approximately 443,000 premature deaths, and 5.1 million years of potential life lost annually.8
  • Every day, approximately 3,600 American youths aged 12-17 try their first cigarette.8
  • If current patterns of smoking behavior continue, an estimated 6.4 million of today's children can be expected to die prematurely from a smoking-related disease.9
  • In 2009, 19% of high schools students reported current cigarette use and 14% reported current cigar use. In addition, 9% of high school students and 20% of white male high school students reported current smokeless tobacco use.8

This information is from the CDC Healthy Youth! Adolescent Health Website.




1. Alcohol and Public Health: Online Tools. Alcohol-Related Disease Impact Software [Internet]. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (updated July 20, 2010). Available: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/ardi.htm. Accessed: June 3, 2011.

2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The relationship between mental health and substance abuse among Adolescents. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 1999.

3. Naimi TS, Brewer RD, Mokdad A, Denny C, Serdula MK, Marks JS. Binge drinking among US adults. JAMA 2003;289:70-75.

4. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2009. Trends in the Prevalence of Alcohol use [Internet]. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/yrbs/pdf/us_alcohol_trend_yrbs.pdf. Accessed: June 7, 2011.

5. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. States with Zero Tolerance Laws for Drivers Under Age 21 [pdf 22K] Washington D.C.: U. S. Department of Transportation, 2002.

6. J.H. Hedlund, R.G. Ulmer, D.F. Preusser. Determine Why There Are Fewer Young Alcohol-Impaired Drivers. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, 2001 [Report Number DOT HS 809 348].

7. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2009. Trends in the prevalence of suicidal-related behaviors, 1991-2009 [Internet]. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/yrbs/pdf/us_suicide_trend_yrbs.pdf. Accessed: May 24, 2011

8. Healthy Youth, Health Topics: Tobacco use [Internet]. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (updated June3, 2010). Available: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/tobacco/index.htm. Accessed: June 8, 2011.CDC. Office on Smoking and Health, 2002 calculations based upon: Smoking attributable mortality and years of potential life loss—United States, 1984. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 1997;46:444-451.


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