Pregnant Teens and Substance Use: Taking a Look at Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions in the United States


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) in the United States recently released a report looking at annual admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities for young women, ages 12-19, between 2007 and 2010.

The report shows that of 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 report highlights the similarities and differences between pregnant and non-pregnant teens.


  • About half (51 percent) of pregnant teen admissions reported some use of drugs or alcohol in the month prior to their treatment entry.
  • 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


Interestingly, there were no differences in marijuana abuse between the two groups. Pregnant teens were less likely to report alcohol use (45.7 vs. 58.5 percent) while they were more likely to report use of methamphetamine or amphetamines (16.9 vs. 8.4 percent). The report does not have data on tobacco use which is often interesting to consider as many women use both alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy and these are the two of the most harmful drugs.

There were some other differences between the two groups that suggest a need for additional or different supports. Pregnant teen admissions were MORE likely than other female teen admissions to be or to report:

  • 18 to 19 years old
  • Government assistance (such as Medicaid) as the expected/actual primary source of payment
  • Less than a high school education (0-11 years)
  • Public assistance as a primary source of income support
  • Referral to treatment from community agencies, such as self-help groups, churches, and Federal, State, or local government agencies that provide social services

See the press release here and the report here.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (May 9, 2013). The TEDS Report: Characteristics of Pregnant Teen Substance Abuse Treatment Admissions. Rockville, MD.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s