Half of Pregnant Teen Admissions Used Drugs or Alcohol in the Month Prior to Entering Treatment

Report reveals special challenges of pregnant teens in substance abuse treatment

A new report shows that among the approximately 57,000 teenage female (ages 12 to 19) substance abuse treatment admissions each year, about 2,000 (4 percent) involve pregnant teens. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) report finds that these pregnant teen admissions tend to face greater challenges than other female teen admissions in a number of key areas such as financial and educational status.

For example, pregnant teen admissions were three times more likely than other female teen admissions to receive public assistance as a primary source of income (15 percent versus 5.3 percent). Similarly in education, while 74 percent of non-pregnant female teen admissions who were not in the workforce were students, only 44.2 percent of pregnant teen admissions not in the workforce were students.

The report also indicates that about half (51 percent) of pregnant teen admissions reported some use of drugs or alcohol in the month prior to their treatment entry. This rate is substantially lower than that of other female teenage admissions (70.9 percent). However, nearly one fifth (19.3 percent) of pregnant teen admissions had used a drug or alcohol on a daily basis in the month before entering treatment – comparable to the rate among other female teen admissions (24.5 percent).

Marijuana was the most commonly used substance among both pregnant teen and other female teen treatment admission groups (72.9 percent and 70.2 percent respectively). However there were some notable differences in the substance use patterns between the two groups, particularly with regard to the use of methamphetamines and amphetamines. Pregnant teen admissions were twice as likely as other female treatment admissions to abuse these substances (16.9 percent for pregnant teen admissions versus 8.4 percent for other female teen admissions).

“It is critical that pregnant women of all ages have access to prevention, support, and recovery services that meet their specialized needs,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “These specialized needs are even more acute for our pregnant teens. Community programs that can address the needs of pregnant teens by providing them both access to substance abuse support services and specialized pregnant and post partum services can help ensure that these future mothers and their children live healthier, happier and more productive lives.”


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