Teen Drug Abuse (cont.)

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What are some adolescent drug use statistics?


  • Tobacco Smoking among teens in grades 8, 10 and 12 continued to decline in 2013—a positive trend since most smokers begin their habit in adolescence—according to the latest survey results from the nationwide Monitoring the Future study.
  • Based on annual surveys of 40,000 to 50,000 students in about 400 secondary schools, the researchers found that the percentage of students saying that they smoked at all in the prior 30 days fell for the three grades combined, from 10.6 percent to 9.6 percent—a statistically significant drop.


  • The use of alcohol by teens has dropped dramatically over roughly the past two decades—particularly among the youngest teens—and continues to drop in 2013. The 30-day prevalence of alcohol use declines in all three grades in 2013, dropping 0.8, 1.9 and 2.3 percentage points in grades 8, 10 and 12.
  • The 12th-grade decline is statistically significant as is the decline for the three grades combined.
  • All three grades are now at the lowest point that they have been at least since the mid-1990s, and likely longer. Among 8th graders, most of whom are 13 or 14 years old, the proportion who have ever taken "more than just a few sips" of alcohol by 8th grade has fallen by half since the 1990s.
  • Prevalence of recent binge drinking (having five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) has dropped in 2013 by 1.9 percentage points in 10th grade and by 1.6 percentage points in 12th grade, while 8th-grader use remains unchanged. As with 30-day prevalence, all grades are at their lowest points since at least the mid-1990s.
  • The two-week prevalence rates for binge drinking are now at 5.1 percent, 13.7 percent and 22.1 percent in the three grades—down from peak levels by about six-tenths, four-tenths and three-tenths, respectively.
  • Despite the declines in prevalence of binge drinking, perceived risk of that behavior has actually fallen a little in all three grades in 2013.
  • Disapproval of binge drinking continues a gradual increase in the upper grades; and perceived availability for alcohol continues longer-term declines, which are sharpest in the lower grades.

Illicit Drugs

  • The index of any illicit drug use tends to be driven by marijuana, which is by far the most prevalent of the many illicitly used drugs.
  • In 2013, the proportions of students indicating any use of an illicit drug in the prior 12 months are 15 percent, 32 percent, and 40 percent in grades 8, 10 and 12, respectively—higher than a year ago by 1.5, 1.6 and 0.6 percentage points for the same grades (only the change at 8th grade is statistically significant). For the three grades combined, the rate is up by 1.3 percentage points, also a statistically significant increase.
  • The percentages indicating any use in their lifetime are 20 percent, 39 percent and 50 percent. In other words, half of America's high school seniors have tried an illicit drug by the time they graduate and four in 10 have used it in just the past year.
  • "But it should also be noted that fully half of today's seniors have not tried an illicit drug by the end of high school," said Lloyd Johnston, the principal investigator of the study.


  • In general, the use of marijuana among teens has been drifting higher in recent years following a decade or more of fairly steady decline.
  • In 2013, use among 8th and 10th graders has drifted up further, though not enough to reach statistical significance.
  • Annual prevalence (the percent using once or more in the prior 12 months) has risen from 11.4 percent to 12.7 percent among 8th graders and from 28.0 percent to 29.8 percent among 10th graders, while among 12th graders, use has held steady at 36.4 percent.
  • "But more noteworthy is the fact that the proportion of adolescents seeing marijuana use as risky declined again sharply in all three grades," Johnston said. "Perceived risk—namely the risk to the user that teenagers associate with a drug—has been a lead indicator of use, both for marijuana and other drugs, and it has continued its sharp decline in 2013 among teens. This could foretell further increases in use in the future."
  • From 2005 to 2013, the percent seeing great risk from being a regular marijuana user has fallen among 8th graders from 74 percent to 61percent, among 10th graders from 66 percent to 47 percent and among 12th graders from 58 percent to 40 percent—including significant one-year
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/6/2015

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Teen Drug Abuse - Prevention Question: How do you recommend preventing teen drug abuse?
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Teen Drug Abuse - Parental Prevention Question: As a parent, in what ways have you tried to prevent drug use in your children and teens?
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Teen Drug Abuse - Treatment Question: What kinds of treatment, therapy, and medication did you receive for your drug addiction?
Teen Drug Abuse - Help for Teens Question: Was there a counselor or group that helped you as a teen with issues of drug addiction or abuse?