Teen Drug Statistics

In this Teen Drug Statistics article we learn about what drugs teens are using, how teenage students view teen drug use and what drugs are widely available to teens. Also a look at what drug use and drug addiction does to teenagers.

We do not hear a great deal about drug and alcohol abuse in schools much anymore, and perhaps that is due to complacency. Illegal drug use declined in the mid-1990s, and it seemed as though efforts to educate the youth were working. However, in recent years some drugs have come back into vogue amongst high school students - especially in terms of drugs  (like marijuana) that are often thought of as “harmless.”

Overview of teen drug use

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics as part of the United States Department of Justice, the most common subject of substance use is alcohol. While this may not be illegal for adults, it is important to remember that, for teenagers, alcohol use is considered illicit substance abuse. After alcohol, marijuana is the most used drug amongst high school seniors. Following alcohol and marijuana, in order of popular use, are:

  • Other opiates
  • Stimulants
  • Sedatives
  • Tranquilizers
  • Cocaine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Inhalants
  • Steroids
  • Heroin

However, teen drug statistics indicate, the use of these other drugs remains relatively low: Only 8.5% of high school seniors reported that they had every used cocaine, and only 1.4% admit to using heroin. It appears that, other than the use of marijuana and alcohol, most teen drug use is experimental in nature, and few develop habits of drug abuse. However, this does not minimize the dangers associated with drug use, since for many drugs adverse reactions can be fatal even with one use.

How teen drug use is viewed by students

One of the things to take into consideration is how risky students feel drug abuse is. For the most part, students report that drug use can be fairly risky. Teen drug addiction is considered high risk in terms of cocaine and heroin. High school students have become less concerned about LSD in recent years. But one of the most marked differences is the change in sentiment regarding teen marijuana use. Since 1987, the number of high school students that perceive marijuana users as presenting a risk to themselves has dropped from 75% to right around 50%. Increasingly, marijuana is not considered dangerous. Alcohol has even less of a stigma attached to it.

Availability of drugs

One of the issues right now is the availability of drugs to high school students. The Department of Justice teen drug statistics report that 83.9% of students say that it is easy to obtain marijuana. Indeed, drugs are easy for teens to obtain, with these percentages of students claiming they could conveniently lay hands on:

  • Amphetamines: 49.6%
  • Cocaine: 47.1%
  • Barbiturates: 41.7%
  • Crack: 37.5%
  • LSD: 28.7%
  • Heroin: 29.7%
  • Crystal meth: 25.1%
  • Tranquilizers: 23.6%
  • PCP: 21.0%

The Department of Justice teen drug statistics also reports that 25% of students in high school (grades 9 through 12) reported that they were offered drugs on school property. Male students reported drug offerings at a higher rate than the female students.

One of the best ways to help your teens stay away from drug use is to be involved in their lives. Showing interest and encouraging activities, as well as showing that you care can be effective ways to foster open communication and express your expectations that your teenager will not become involved in substance abuse.

Source: Department of Justice, Office of Justice Statistics: - ojp.usdoj.gov.

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