Recent federal surveys indicate that New Hampshire teens use drugs at significantly higher rates than those in all but 10 other states nationwide. This relatively high rate of drug use is coupled with a low rate of drug treatment among teenagers. The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy has taken a deeper look at the federal data, and using data that the Center has compiled on drug and alcohol abuse among juveniles, places the federal findings within the context of juvenile crime and the use of detention and diversion programs in New Hampshire. It also examines the creation of five juvenile drug courts, a state effort to deal with the problem.
Findings indicate that the four fully operating drug courts have succeeded in getting teens into treatment and keeping them there. Meanwhile, financial support for treatment providers has eroded over the last decade and the average waiting period for young people seeking treatment from publicly-funded providers has increased. African-American and Hispanic teens who are arrested are much more likely than whites to be sent to the state's secure detention facility. Uninsured youth receive lower rates of state-subsidized alcohol or drug treatment than those with private insurance or Medicaid.
The Center plans to continue in its efforts to explore these issues and to identify strategies to reduce problems associated with teen drug use and crime.