Youth Substance Use Declining in Tennessee

Thursday, February 16, 2017 | 10:35am

Hope for a Brighter Future

NASHVILLE- The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is proud to announce that youth substance use trends are declining in Tennessee, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. (Source: SAMHSA Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2006-2008; 2008-2010; 2010-2012; and 2012-2014)

“It is very encouraging to see that in all substance use areas our young people are using substances less; this means prevention efforts are working,” said Marie Williams, TDMHSAS Commissioner. “Youth substance use can take a tremendous toll on individuals, families, and communities. Most Tennesseans know someone’s family who has been impacted by the unfortunate reality of adolescent substance use. For those that have struggled with, been impacted by youth substance use, or been part of the prevention efforts, these new indicators give us hope.”

Substance use declined among Tennessee youth from 2004-2006 to 2012-2014:

  • Illicit drug use dropped from 6% to 3%
  • Alcohol use declined from 14% to 10%
  • Misuse of pain relievers dropped from 9% to 5%
  • Cigarette use declined from 13% to 7%

Tennessee’s youth substance use trends have been decreasing at a faster rate than the national average. Tennessee youth illicit drug use has declined and is now at or below the national average. Fewer Tennessee youth (6%) used marijuana in the past month than compared to the United States youth (7%). The full report outlines many positive trends in Tennessee related to youth substance use.

“The Department places an emphasis on education, prevention, treatment and early intervention efforts directed specifically at Tennessee youth,” said Rodney Bragg, TDMHSAS Assistant Commissioner of Substance Abuse Services. “The earlier we can identify and engage youth that are more susceptible to substance use, the more effective our efforts will be.”

“The fact that these key substance use indicators are declining among our youth in Tennessee provides great hope for the future of our State,” said Commissioner Williams. Our hope is that the culture is changing in Tennessee and that we will also see a decrease in adult substance use trends in the future as well.

For the full TDMHSAS report on Youth Substance Use Trends, CLICK HERE

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, call Tennessee REDLINE (1-800-889-9789) or visit

Our Mission: Provide, plan for, and promote a comprehensive array of quality prevention, early intervention, treatment, habilitation, rehabilitation and recovery support services for Tennesseans with mental illness and substance abuse issues.  Our Vision: To be one of the nation's most innovative and proactive state behavioral health authorities for Tennesseans dealing with mental health and substance abuse problems. For more information, visit: