Young People and Drugs
- Basic Data - Prevalence, Trends, Perception of Risk & Availability
- Schools, Drugs, and Crime
- Young People and Marijuana
- Sociopolitical Perspectives
- Young People and Crime
Data Table Links:
- Estimated 30-Day Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs by Grades 8, 10, and 12 Combined
- Estimated Annual Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs by Grades 8, 10, and 12 Combined
- Estimated Daily Prevalence of Use of Various Drugs for Grades 8, 10, and 12 Combined
The Drug Policy Alliance has a series of resources for educators and parents, including a drug education curriculum and tips for talking to teens about drugs.
Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse has been working since the early 1980s to provide honest, effective drug education for young people.
Page last updated June 10, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.
51. Prevalence of Sadness or Hopelessness Among High School Students in the US, by Gender
"During the 12 months before the survey, 31.5% of students nationwide had felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities (Supplementary Table 42). The prevalence of having felt sad or hopeless was higher among female (41.1%) than male (21.4%) students; higher among white female (38.2%), black female (40.7%), and Hispanic female (46.8%) than white male (21.4%), black male (17.3%), and Hispanic male (21.2%) students, respectively; and higher among 9th-grade female (40.0%), 10th-grade female (43.1%), 11th-grade female (43.6%), and 12th-grade female (37.5%) than 9th-grade male (19.5%), 10th-grade male (21.5%), 11th-grade male (20.9%), and 12th-grade male (24.1%) students, respectively. The prevalence of having felt sad or hopeless was higher among Hispanic (33.7%) than white (30.2%) and black (29.2%) students and higher among Hispanic female (46.8%) than white female (38.2%) students. The prevalence of having felt sad or hopeless was higher among 10th-grade female (43.1%) and 11th-grade female (43.6%) than 12th-grade female (37.5%) students and higher among 12th-grade male (24.1%) than 9th-grade male (19.5%) students.
"Analyses based on the question ascertaining sexual identity indicated that nationwide, 27.5% of heterosexual students; 63.0% of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students; and 46.4% of not sure students had felt sad or hopeless (Supplementary Table 42). The prevalence of having felt sad or hopeless was higher among gay, lesbian, and bisexual (63.0%) and not sure (46.4%) than heterosexual (27.5%) students and higher among gay, lesbian, and bisexual (63.0%) than not sure (46.4%) students. Among female students, the prevalence was higher among lesbian and bisexual (68.8%) and not sure (51.9%) than heterosexual (36.8%) students and higher among lesbian and bisexual (68.8%) than not sure (51.9%) students. Among male students, the prevalence was higher among gay and bisexual (45.5%) and not sure (36.4%) than heterosexual (19.5%) students. The prevalence also was higher among heterosexual female (36.8%) than heterosexual male (19.5%) students, higher among lesbian and bisexual female (68.8%) than gay and bisexual male (45.5%) students, and higher among not sure female (51.9%) than not sure male (36.4%) students."
Laura Kann, PhD; Tim McManus, MS; William A. Harris, MM; et al. "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance — United States, 2017," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Surveillance Summaries (Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control, June 15, 2018), Vol. 67, No. 8.
52. Ease of Getting Drugs
"Younger teens (ages 12 to 13 and 14 to 15) are more likely to say that they can get prescription drugs in an hour, and within a day, compared to marijuana, while older teens (16- to 17) are more likely to be able to get to marijuana within a day."
QEV Analytics, LTD., "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, August 2012), p. 28.
53. Estimated Number of Young Adults in the US With a Parent Who Has Ever Spent Time in Jail or Prison
"The prevalence of any PI [Parental Incarceration] was 12.5% with the 95% confidence interval (CI) of 11.3% to 13.8%. The distribution of incarceration status by category was: neither parent (87.5%, 95% CI: 86.2%–88.7%), father only (9.9%, 95% CI: 8.9%–10.9%), mother only (1.7%, 95% CI: 1.4%–2.0%), and both parents (0.9%, 95% CI: 0.7%–1.2%). A significant association was found between race and PI. Black and Hispanic individuals had the highest prevalence of PI, 20.6% and 14.8%, compared with 11.9% for white individuals and 11.6% for those classified as other. Pairwise comparison indicated the black and white prevalence rates were significantly different."
Note: Regarding study sample size: "The current study used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), a 4-wave longitudinal study following a nationally representative probability sample of adolescents in grades 7 through 12 in the 1994–1995 school year.46 The first 3 waves of Add Health data were collected from April to December 1995, from April to August 1996, and from August 2001 to April 2002. The fourth wave of data was collected in 2007 and 2008. The full sample for Wave 4 included 15 701 or 80.3% of the eligible participants from Wave 1. The response rates for Waves 1, 2, 3, and 4 were 79.0%, 88.6%, 77.4%, and 80.3%, respectively. The mean ages of participants during the 4 waves of data collection were 15.7 years, 16.2 years, 22.0 years, and 28.8 years, respectively.
"The current study was based on 14,800 participants who were interviewed during Wave 1 and Wave 4 and have a sampling weight. Of the 15,701 participants who participated in both Wave 1 and Wave 4 interviews, 14,800 participants have a sampling weight at Wave 4 interview that could be used to compute population estimates. For data analysis, data describing participants’ sociodemographic characteristics from Wave 1 of the Add Health study were combined with Wave 4 self-reported health outcomes and PI history."
Rosalyn D. Lee, Xiangming Fang and Feijun Luo, "The Impact of Parental Incarceration on the Physical and Mental Health of Young Adults." Pediatrics 2013;131;e1188; originally published online March 18, 2013; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2012-0627.
54. Depression and Marijuana Use
“High school students in CASA’s survey who report having ever used marijuana are more likely than students who never used marijuana to report that they feel alone or isolated (26.7 percent vs. 19.9 percent), that they often feel very sad or depressed (27.9 percent vs. 14.0 percent) and that they think they will develop depression during their lifetime (41.0 percent vs. 25.4 percent).7”
Adolescent Substance Use: America’s #1 Public Health Problem," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, June 2011), p. 46.
55. Prescription Medicine Abuse
"It is important to note that the negative consequences of prescription medicine abuse remain extensive and troubling. Emergency room visits as a result of prescription medications increased 45 percent between 2004 and 2009 among children under 20 years of age1. Admissions to treatment for prescription medicine abuse among adolescents have also increased and deaths caused by drug overdoses, led by prescription medicines, now outnumber traffic fatalities in the United States2."
"The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study: 2011 Parents and Teens Full Report," MetLife Foundation and The Partnership at Drugfree.org (New York, NY: May 2, 2012), p. 14.
56. Impact of State-Legal Medical Marijuana on Adolescent Marijuana Use
"In conclusion, our study of self-reported marijuana use by adolescents in states with a medical marijuana policy compared with a sample of geographically similar states without a policy does not demonstrate increases in marijuana use among high school students that may be attributed to the policies."
Choo, Esther K. et al., "The Impact of State Medical Marijuana Legislation on Adolescent Marijuana Use," Journal of Adolescent Health, August 2014, Volume 55, Issue 2, p. 160 - 166.
57. Alcohol and Tobacco Use by Young People as Gateway Factors for Eventual Use of Other Drugs
" In 2013, the rate of current illicit drug use among youths aged 12 to 17 who smoked cigarettes in the past month was approximately 9 times the rate among youths who did not smoke cigarettes in the past month (53.9 vs. 6.1 percent). Also, the rate of current marijuana use in 2013 among youths aged 12 to 17 who smoked cigarettes in the past month was about 11 times the rate among youths who did not smoke cigarettes (49.5 vs. 4.6 percent).
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, NSDUH Series H-48, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4863. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2014, p. 31.
58. Importance of Relationship with Parents
"Teens who have high-quality relationships with Mom and Dad are less likely to use drugs, drink or smoke.
"The Importance of Family Dinners VIII: A CASAColumbia White Paper," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (New York, NY: September 2012), p. 3.
59. Social Networking and Drug Use
"Compared to teens who have never seen pictures on Facebook, MySpace or another social networking site of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs, teens who have seen such pictures are:
Four times likelier to have used marijuana (25 percent vs. 6 percent);
QEV Analytics, LTD., "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens," The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, August 2012), p. 3.
60. Gangs in Schools
" Forty-five percent of high school students say that there are gangs or students who consider themselves to be part of a gang in their school.
Knowledge Networks and QEV Analytics, "National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XV: Teens and Parents" (New York, NY: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, August 2010), p. 2.