Teen Drug Use: It’s Not Just an Inner City Thing

You might think that your children and teens are less likely to experiment with drugs if you live in one of Kansas City’s many lovely suburban areas like Overland Park, Liberty, Blue Springs, or Lee’s Summit. But just because your address is in a suburb doesn’t mean that your child isn’t engaged in what you might think are “inner city” activities.

Although many drugs first rose to prominence in more densely populated urban areas, studies have shown that illegal drug abuse among teens is spreading out from the inner city and reaching into the suburbs. In research conducted by Suniya S. Luthar of Columbia and Dr. Karen D’Avanzo of Yale, suburban teenagers reported much higher levels of substance abuse than inner city teenagers. Instances of prescription drug abuse and heroin use by teenages have soared in the past few years.

Although high costs and dangers associated with drug use once kept suburban youths away from illegal drugs, we can’t deny the clear shift:  teen drug use is no longer just an “inner city thing.”

Increased Teen Heroin Abuse in the Suburbs

Heroin use in the United States has skyrocketed since 2002. As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports, there has been an 80% increase in first-time use of heroin by 12 to 17 year olds. And the Drug Enforcement Administration has seized more heroin in 2012 than before: the amount doubled to 2,059 lbs in 2012 from 1,334 lbs in 2008. Teenage drug users are a huge part of the overall heroin increase.Teen Drug Use in the Suburbs Not Inner City | ARCpoint Labs

In particular, cities surrounding Chicago, like Naperville, IL, have seen a remarkable increase in the amount of teenage heroin users in the past few years, demonstrating the shift of teenage drug use from the inner city to the suburbs. In Naperville, 2 of 6 people who died of heroin overdoses in 2011 were teenagers, and more suburban teen drug users have lost their lives to heroin since then. Also in 2011, felony drug arrests among Naperville teenagers saw a 78% increase and a 450% increase in heroin arrests specifically.

Clearly heroin use has shifted from the inner city to the suburbs, but why? Experts say that  it is due in part to the crackdown on prescription drug abuse. As law enforcement and pharmaceutical companies have made it more difficult for suburban teens to access opiates in pill form, they‘ve turned to the less expensive, easier-to-access form: heroin.

Fight Teen Drug Abuse in the Suburbs with ARCpoint

It’s important to be aware of the shifts in teenage drug use from the inner city to the suburbs. Even if your town has a squeaky clean image, there is most likely a teenage drug user in your midst, whether it’s your own child, their friend, or a kid in your neighborhood.

If you have a teenager and you are concerned about their potential drug use, you should talk to them about the dangers of drug abuse. ARCpoint Labs of Kansas City can provide more information about teenage drug use. We also offer confidential testing at our Kansas City  facilities so that you can help keep your teenager clean.

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