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On average, when do kids begin abusing drugs in Utah?  Are kids receiving help for substance abuse or alcohol dependency in Utah? Answers to questions such as these and other interesting facts about Utah’s youth can be found on the website: cwla.org.  Surprisingly, there are many youths who are struggling and are not receiving any sort of help.  The Child Welfare League of America found in 2008, an estimated 18,000 children ages 12–17 were dependent on or abusing illicit drugs or alcohol in Utah.  This number is staggering.  Sadly, the study conducted in 2008 also found that approximately 11,000 children ages 12–17 in Utah needed but had not received treatment for illicit drug use during the past year.  Further, when examining risk factors that contribute to substance abuse, it was found during a study in 2010, that 10,000 Utah teens ages 16–19 were not enrolled in school and were not working.

What about specific drugs and abuse of those drugs with kids in Utah?  The US no drugs foundation reports that “In 2008, 13.3% of eighth graders, 17.2% of tenth graders, and 25.4% of twelfth graders reported that heroin was “fairly easy” or “very easy” to obtain.”  Further, …they indicated that “In 2005, the average age at first marijuana use among recent initiates aged 12 to 49 was 17.4 years. This average increased from 17.0 years in 2002, 16.8 years in 2003, and 17.1 years in 2004, although only the difference between the 2005 and 2003 mean ages was significant. Excluding initiation at age 21 or older, the mean ages of initiation were 15.9 years in 2002, 15.9 years in 2003, 16.0 years in 2004, and 16.0 years in 2005.”  These facts are important to note in order to increase awareness among teachers and parents.

Some parents or teachers may not be overly concerned when they discover that a teen is using alcohol or tobacco.  However, studies show that, “Using alcohol and tobacco as a teen increases the risk of using other drugs later. Some teens will experiment and stop, or continue to use occasionally without significant problems. Others will begin to abuse the drugs they once used only recreationally, moving on to more harmful drugs and causing significant harm to themselves and possibly others.”  This statement and the previous statistics are a good warning for society in general and especially for those who interact with Utah’s kids.