NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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Real Teens Ask: How Many Teens Use Drugs?

Sara Bellum
June 19, 2013

This post, which originally appeared on SBB in October 2009, answers one of the most common questions NIDA hears from teens. The stats here come from the 2012 Monitoring the Future study.

Lots of teens are asking questions about drugs. That's why each year NIDA scientists spend a day chatting online with high school students and answering their questions.

During one Drug Facts Chat Day, ims604cb asked:

“How many teens are on drugs?"

The best way to find out if high school kids do drugs is to ask them. That's exactly what NIDA does every year in its annual Monitoring the Future study. This survey of more than 46,000 teens—8th, 10th, and 12th graders to be exact—showed that 13% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 40% of 12th graders say they have used a drug at least once in the past year.

So, what is the most commonly used illegal drug?—Marijuana. More than a quarter of 10th graders say they have tried it in the past year. You can see the numbers for each major drug type in this report (PDF‒2.25 MB).

But, to answer the question, not that many kids in high school do drugs, although marijuana is the most common. Even though it may sometimes seem like "everyone's doing it," know that not everyone really is.

For more details on specific results from the Monitoring the Future study, browse an overview of the results.

Comments

It's so disgusting isn't it.
That's not good at all.
Prescription Drugs are being abused, not only by teenagers, but by adults. The ridiculous price of prescription medications are leading many people, of all ages, to log on to their computers and purchase a variety of medications (some of which are even controlled) from illegal outlets here in the United States, or Canada. I'm a Pharmacy Technician, and have been for 14 years. I can't tell you how shocked I was to hear that my own mother had attempted to purchase medication needed for my stepfathers cancer treatment online. They have good insurance, but were still paying $400 in co-pays. They couldn't make ends meet and succumbed to ads all over the internet promising cheap "FDA-approved" medications. Luckily (I guess), the scammer simply accepted payment and never sent them anything. There are many programs out there that offer prescription assistance even for middle income families, most of which can be found by searching "(Drug Name) Manufacturer Coupon" into Google. Silly that people have to search the internet for coupons just to reduce the cost of medication. Al Davis - Core Curriculum Developer [link removed per guidelines]
more than 46,000 teens—8th, 10th, and 12th graders to be exact—showed that 13% of 8th graders, 30% of 10th graders, and 40% of 12th graders say they have used a drug at least once in the past year. this is huge number, it will be influent in their life, drug is very harm for our life, the study may be decreased if this situation continue, the goverment should gice some useful method to make the number to the lowest.
teens always do drugs and sale them at school
I want to know the real reason why they do the drugs. regardless of what the drug of choice is there is a reason they were interested enough to do it because every one else is. some go from being perfectly content with their studies and sports to not doing any studies and stopping sports and all they do is the drugs. What makes that happen?
During puberty you tend to define who you are as a person and this means trying a lot of new things. Seeing if you like being a vegetarian or seeing if you like smoking marijuana, you just try things. The main reasons are curiosity, being rebellious (against parents, society's morals etc.), wanting to be 'cool' and do what your friends are doing, and for one in five teenagers it's exciting to do the forbidden. A lot of people that do/ have done drugs have problems from their childhood that they haven't overcome yet and try to escape these feelings without having to confront them. Also, there are the factors that there are a lot of celebrities that take drugs or have even gone to rehab multiple times but still seem fine. I'm only sixteen years old and smoke marijuana quite often (multiple times a week). I can't tell you why I do it though. It simply feels nice to get out of reality. So yes, these are the reasons teenagers tend to turn to drugs. Currently doing a presentation on this topic. Hope I helped. :)
The percentage is quite high. More than half of people used drugs at least once during their teenage year, but the number the number who use it daily is low.
Many kids in my school use drugs and bring them to school and never get caught with it cause they put it un there bras or down there pants.
I find it really sad that more and more people are taking illegal drugs, especially teens. Despite all the awareness that is spread to teens and adults about drugs, people need to communicate with each other to better understand drugs and how harmful they can be. Friends that use drugs can have a great influence on someone's decision to take drugs, and on occasion a person may feel pressured by peers to try substances. I would like to know why such a large percentage of people are taking drugs, because if I were to weigh the opportunity cost of taking illegal drugs against not taking them, there is a great benefit to not taking them. (Save money, stay safe, can look after peers at social gatherings, and no damage to health.) Perhaps people should look at alternatives to taking illegal substances and seek help if it's becoming a problem and they are having serious thoughts about using drugs.

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