42 Teenage Drug Misuse Statistics

Drug misuse among teenagers is a growing concern in today's society. It can have devastating consequences on their physical and mental health, academic performance, and relationships with family and friends.

Published On

November 23, 2023

Drug misuse among teenagers is a growing concern in today's society. It can have devastating consequences on their physical and mental health, academic performance, and relationships with family and friends. According to recent statistics, drug use among adolescents has been on the rise in the past few years.

This trend is alarming and underscores the need for greater awareness of the issue and effective prevention strategies. In this article, we will examine some of the most striking teenage drug misuse statistics, their implications, and what can be done to address them.

Top 10 Key Teenage Drug Abuse Statistics

Teenage drug misuse is a growing problem in today's society.

  1. 50% of high school seniors have tried an illicit drug at least once in their lifetime (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  2. 1 in 5 high school seniors reported using an illicit drug within the past month (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  3. Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among high school seniors, with 22.9% reporting use within the past month (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  4. 6% of high school seniors reported using synthetic cannabinoids (often called "spice" or "K2") within the past month (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  5. In 2020, 7.5% of high school seniors reported using prescription opioids within the past year (Monitoring the Future).
  6. 3.4% of high school seniors reported using crack cocaine within the past year (Monitoring the Future).
  7. 4.1% of high school seniors reported using methamphetamine within the past year (Monitoring the Future).
  8. 1 in 5 high school students reported being offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property within the past year (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  9. 60% of high school students reported that drugs are kept, sold, or used at their school (Drug-Free World).
  10. 74% of teens who have misused prescription painkillers obtained them from a friend or relative (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Most Common Drugs Used by Teens Statistics

  • Marijuana: As mentioned earlier, marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among high school seniors, with 22.9% reporting use within the past month.
  • Alcohol: Although not an illicit drug, alcohol is still a major concern when it comes to teenage drug misuse. In fact, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 7.4 million young people between ages 12-20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month.
  • Tobacco: Tobacco use remains a significant problem among teenagers as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2020, about 18% of high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the past month.
  • Prescription opioids: Prescription opioid misuse has become increasingly common among teenagers in recent years. In 2020, 7.5% of high school seniors reported using prescription opioids within the past year.
  • Synthetic cannabinoids ("spice" or "K2"): Synthetic cannabinoids are often marketed as a "safe" alternative to marijuana, but they can be just as dangerous - if not more so - than the real thing. Unfortunately, they remain popular among teens; 6% of high school seniors reported using synthetic cannabinoids within the past month.
  • Cocaine: While cocaine use has decreased somewhat over the years, it's still a concern when it comes to teenage drug misuse; Monitoring the Future reports that 3.4% of high school seniors reported using crack cocaine within the past year.
  • Methamphetamine: Methamphetamine use also remains a concern among teenagers; Monitoring the Future reports that 4.1% of high school seniors reported using methamphetamine within the past year.
  • Hallucinogens: Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and mushrooms are not as commonly used as some other drugs on this list, but they're still a concern. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 5.6% of high school seniors reported using hallucinogens within the past year.
  • Inhalants: Inhalant misuse is a lesser-known form of drug abuse, but it can be just as dangerous. Inhaling common household products like glue or paint thinner can cause serious health problems and even death. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 4% of young people aged 12-17 reported using inhalants in the past year.
  • Club drugs: Club drugs like MDMA (ecstasy) and GHB are often associated with party culture and raves, but they're also used outside of those settings. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 2% of high school seniors reported using MDMA within the past year.

Specific Drug Use Statistics For Youth 12 to 17 Years of Age in the U.S.

  • In 2020, about 3% of adolescents aged 12-17 reported using cocaine within the past year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  • About 5% of youth aged 12-17 reported misusing prescription drugs within the past year, with pain relievers being the most commonly misused type of prescription drug (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  • In 2020, approximately 6% of adolescents aged 12-17 reported using marijuana within the past month (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  • According to a study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 1 in 10 youth aged 12-17 reported binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks on one occasion) within the past month.
  • Approximately 2% of youth aged 12-17 reported using hallucinogens such as LSD or mushrooms within the past year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  • Inhalant misuse is also a concern among younger adolescents; about 1% of youth aged 12-13 reported using inhalants in the past year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  • The use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is relatively low among young adolescents; only about half a percent of those aged 12-13 reported using drugs such as cocaine or heroin within the past year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).

12th Grade Marijuana Use Statistics in the U.S.

  • In 2020, 34% of high school seniors reported using marijuana within the past year (Monitoring the Future).
  • Daily marijuana use among high school seniors has increased steadily since 1992, with 6.1% reporting daily use in 2020 (Monitoring the Future).
  • Male high school seniors are more likely to use marijuana than their female peers; in 2020, 36.8% of males reported using marijuana within the past year compared to 30.7% of females (Monitoring the Future).
  • White high school seniors are more likely to use marijuana than their Black or Hispanic peers; in 2020, 35.5% of white seniors reported using marijuana within the past year compared to 29.3% of Black seniors and 28% of Hispanic seniors (Monitoring the Future).
  • Marijuana is becoming increasingly potent, which can increase its potential for harm; according to one study, THC concentrations in seized samples have increased from an average of about 4% in the early 1990s to nearly 13% by 2010 (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Teen and Youth Opioid Use Statistics in the U.S.

  • In 2020, approximately 3.1% of high school seniors reported misusing prescription opioids within the past year (Monitoring the Future).
  • According to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 122,000 adolescents aged 12-17 had a prescription pain reliever use disorder in 2019.
  • In 2020, approximately 2.2% of youth aged 12-17 reported misusing prescription opioids within the past year (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  • Overdose deaths involving opioids among adolescents aged 15-19 increased from 315 in 2015 to 527 in 2019 (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • About one-third of young people who misuse prescription opioids obtain them for free from friends or family members (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Teen Drug Misuse Statistics by Demographics

  • Gender: Male high school seniors are more likely to use marijuana than their female peers; in 2020, 36.8% of males reported using marijuana within the past year compared to 30.7% of females (Monitoring the Future).
  • Race: White high school seniors are more likely to use marijuana than their Black or Hispanic peers; in 2020, 35.5% of white seniors reported using marijuana within the past year compared to 29.3% of Black seniors and 28% of Hispanic seniors (Monitoring the Future).
  • Socioeconomic status: Teenagers from low-income families are more likely to misuse drugs than those from higher-income families (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Education level: High school students who have dropped out of school are more likely to use drugs than those who have not (Drug-Free World).
  • Sexual orientation: LGBTQ+ youth are at a higher risk for substance misuse, with studies showing that they are twice as likely as their straight peers to use drugs (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Peer pressure: Teens who have friends who use drugs are more likely to start using themselves; one study found that teenagers were four times more likely to try drugs if they had friends who used them (Drug-Free World).
  • Mental health: Teenagers with mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety are at a higher risk for drug misuse; according to one study, teenagers with depression were twice as likely as their peers without depression to start using drugs (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Teen Drug Misuse Death Rate

  • In 2019, there were 4,777 drug overdose deaths among young people aged 15-24 in the United States (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with opioids being responsible for more than half of all overdose deaths (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • From 1999 to 2019, the age-adjusted opioid overdose death rate among teenagers aged 15-19 increased nearly six-fold (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • In 2019, there were more than 14,000 deaths involving cocaine among people of all ages in the United States; it is unclear how many of these deaths involved teenagers specifically (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
  • Between 2010 and 2019, there was a nearly four-fold increase in methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths among young people aged 15-24 (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
  • In 2020, there were over 1,200 synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths among teenagers aged 15-19 in the United States (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

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Teen Drug Misuse by Race Statistics

  • White high school seniors are more likely to use marijuana than their Black or Hispanic peers; in 2020, 35.5% of white seniors reported using marijuana within the past year compared to 29.3% of Black seniors and 28% of Hispanic seniors (Monitoring the Future).
  • In 2020, about 6.8% of Black high school seniors reported using cocaine in the past year, compared to only 2.4% of white high school seniors (Monitoring the Future).
  • Hispanic high school students are more likely to report lifetime use of inhalants than white or Black students; in 2019, 9.5% of Hispanic students reported inhalant use compared to 5.8% of white students and 5.7% of Black students (National Survey on Drug Use and Health).
  • Native American/Alaska Native youth have higher rates of substance misuse disorders than any other racial/ethnic group; in a national survey, over a quarter (26%) of Native American/Alaska Native youth aged 12-17 met criteria for a substance abuse disorder (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
  • Asian American/Pacific Islander youth have lower rates of substance misuse overall than other racial/ethnic groups; in a national survey, only about one in ten Asian American/Pacific Islander youth aged 12-17 reported any illicit drug use within the past year (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
  • White high school seniors are more likely to report lifetime use of prescription opioids than their Black or Hispanic peers; in 2020, almost one-quarter (23.1%) of white high school seniors reported lifetime prescription opioid use compared to 14.9% of Black seniors and 16.7% of Hispanic seniors (Monitoring the Future).
  • Black high school seniors are more likely to report lifetime use of synthetic cannabinoids than their white or Hispanic peers; in 2020, 10.7% of Black seniors reported lifetime use compared to 6.8% of white seniors and 5.5% of Hispanic seniors (Monitoring the Future).

Teen Drug Misuse by Country

  • In Canada, about 20% of high school students reported using marijuana within the past year (Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction).
  • In the United Kingdom, 24% of 15-year-olds reported using drugs at least once in their lifetime (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction).
  • In Australia, about 15% of young people aged 14-19 reported using illicit drugs within the past year (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare).
  • In Mexico, drug use among teenagers has been on the rise in recent years; according to one study, nearly half of all high school students had used drugs at some point (El Universal).
  • In Japan, drug use among teenagers is relatively low compared to other countries; according to the Japanese government, only about 0.1% of high school students had used illegal drugs within the past year (Japan Times).
  • In Brazil, drug use among teenagers is a significant problem; according to one survey, nearly 30% of Brazilian teenagers had used drugs within the past year (Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry).
  • In South Africa, drug use among teenagers is also a concern; according to one study, about 12% of adolescents aged 13-19 had used drugs within the past month (South African Medical Journal).

Teen Drug Misuse by State

Drug misuse rates among teenagers vary by state. Here are some statistics on teen drug misuse by state based on data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health:

  • Colorado: In 2020, about 26% of high school students in Colorado reported using marijuana within the past month.
  • New Hampshire: In 2020, approximately 7% of high school students in New Hampshire reported misusing prescription pain relievers within the past year.
  • West Virginia: In 2020, West Virginia had the highest rate of opioid overdose deaths among teenagers aged 15-19; there were approximately 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people in this age group.
  • California: In 2020, approximately 2.6% of high school students in California reported using cocaine within the past year.
  • Florida: In 2020, Florida had one of the highest rates of synthetic cannabinoid-related emergency department visits among teenagers aged 12-17; there were approximately 4.4 visits per 10,000 people in this age group.
  • Texas: In 2020, Texas had one of the highest rates of inhalant use among teenagers aged 12-17; about 3% of young people in this age group reported using inhalants within the past year.
  • Ohio: In 2020, Ohio had one of the highest rates of methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths among young people aged 15-24; there were approximately five deaths per million people in this age group.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the statistics on teenage drug misuse are alarming and raise serious concerns about the health and well-being of young people. While some progress has been made in reducing drug use among teens, there is still much work to be done.

It's crucial that we continue to educate young people about the risks associated with drugs and provide them with resources and support to make healthy choices. Parents, teachers, healthcare providers, and community leaders all have a role to play in preventing drug misuse among teenagers. By working together, we can help ensure that our youth have a brighter future free from the harmful effects of drugs.

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