Teen Drug Abuse Statistics

Teen drug use is a reality in most schools. Alcohol is by far the greatest drug in use among high school students. Of other drugs, marijuana is the most commonly used drug among teens. Even though most teens do not use drugs every day, the truth is that most teens have had some sort of experience with drugs at least one point in their lives. And, in the case of alcohol, nearly every teen has tried it.

Teen Drug Use Statistics for High School Seniors

2014 survey results show the percentage of teens in high school that admitted to using drugs or alcohol in the past 30 days:

  • Alcohol: 37.4%
  • Marijuana: 21.2%
  • E-cigarettes (vape): 17.1%
  • Stimulants: 4.6%
  • Other opiates: 4.3%
  • Tranquilizers: 3.1%
  • Sedatives: 2.9%
  • Hallucinogens: 1.9%
  • Cocaine: 2.3%
  • Inhalants: 1.5%
  • Steroids: 1.6%
  • Heroin: 0.5%

The numbers change, however, when teen drug use is expanded to include usage over the past year:

  • Alcohol: 70.6%
  • Marijuana: 35.1%
  • Adderall: 6.8%
  • Synthetic Marijuana: 5.8%
  • Vicodin: 4.8%
  • Tranquilizers: 4.7%
  • Sedatives: 4.3%
  • Cough Medicine: 4.1%
  • Hallucinogens: 4.0%
  • MDMA (Ecstasy): 3.6%
  • OxyContin: 3.3%
  • Cocaine: 2.6%
  • Inhalants: 1.9%
  • Salvia: 1.8%
  • Ritalin: 1.8%

“Hard” Drugs Teens Use

  • 8.1% of high school seniors report that they have ever used cocaine
  • 1.5% report any use of heroin.

The use of hallucinogens and most opiates is also lower. It is marijuana that causes the greatest amount of concern regarding teen drug use.

Teen Drug Use: Marijuana

Marijuana use has increased since 1992. In 2014, the past-month use has dramatically increased among teenagers of all ages:

  • High school seniors: from 12% in 1992 to 21.2%
  • 10th graders: from 8% in 1992 to 16.6%
  • 8th graders: from 4% in 1992 to 6.5%
  • 81% of high school seniors say Marijuana is easy to get

Indeed, almost half (45.7%) of high school seniors report that they have used marijuana at some point during their teenage years.

Teen Drug Availability

Even among teens that do not use drugs, it is acknowledged that they are fairly easy to come by.

  • 29% of teens in grades 9 through 12 report that illegal drugs were made available to them on school property
  • 38.4% of teens in public schools report that drugs are readily available
  • 22.4% at private schools report drugs are readily available
  • 62.9% report that street gangs are present to sell the drugs

Teen Drug Availability by Drug Type

In 2008, the following percentages of teens report knowing how to obtain each of the following type of drug:

  • Marijuana: 83.9%
  • Amphetamines: 47.9%
  • Cocaine: 42.4%
  • Barbiturates: 38.8%
  • Crack: 35.2%
  • LSD: 28.5%
  • Tranquilizers: 22.4%
  • Heroin: 25.4%
  • Crystal meth: 23.3%
  • PCP: 20.6%

So, even if teens do not use drugs, it is clear that they are readily available, either at school or by some other means. And it is also clear that teen drug use, while declining in some areas, is rising as far as marijuana use is concerned.

Teen Drug Abuse Statistics Sources:

  1. “Drug Facts: High School and Youth Trends” National Institute of Health. drugabuse.gov [Online]
  2. “Drug Use: Youth,” Bureau of Justice Statistics. U.S. Department of Justice. [Online.]