Perceived Availability of Drugs Among Young People in the US

"• Measures on the availability of cigarettes are not included in the 12th grade questionnaires because we have assumed that they are almost universally available to this age group. However, data on this measure are collected from 8th and 10th graders, which clearly show that most perceive cigarettes to be readily available. In 2016, 46% of 8th graders and 63% of 10th graders thought that cigarettes would be fairly easy or very easy for them to get if they wanted some.

"• The great majority of teens also see alcohol as readily available: In 2016, 53% of 8th graders, 71% of 10th graders, and 85% of 12th graders said it would be fairly easy or very easy to get.

"• Far fewer 8th graders report that illicit drugs are readily available. Even so, marijuana was described as readily available by 35% of 8th graders in 2016, followed by steroids (13%), amphetamines (12%), cocaine powder, crack and tranquilizers (all at 11%), MDMA (ecstasy),sedatives (barbiturates), narcotics other than heroin and heroin (all 9%), crystal methamphetamine (ice) and LSD (both at 7%), and PCP (5%).

"• Marijuana appears to be readily available to the great majority of 12th graders; in 2016, 81% reported that they think it would be very easy or fairly easy to get—far higher than the proportion who reported ever having used it (45%). There is a considerable drop in availability after marijuana; the next most readily available class of drugs for 12th graders is amphetamines, with 41% saying these drugs would be very or fairly easy to get, followed by narcotics other than heroin (39%).

"• Between 20% and 33% of 12th graders perceived MDMA (ecstasy) (33%), hallucinogens other than LSD (33%), cocaine (29%), LSD (28%), cocaine powder (23%), sedatives (barbiturates) (26%), steroids (21%), crack (20%), and heroin (20%) as readily available.

"• Crystal methamphetamine (ice), tranquilizers, and PCP were reported as readily available by smaller but still substantial minorities of 12th graders in 2016 (15%, 15%, and 13%, respectively)."


Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2017). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2016: Volume I, Secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan. Available at