Real Teens Ask: How Many Teens Use Drugs?

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Teens sitting and relaxing

Note: 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?"

We Asked Teens...

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 percent of 8th graders, 30 percent of 10th graders, and 40 percent 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've tried it in the past year. You can see the numbers for each major drug type in this report (PDF‒2.25 MB).

...And Got Good News

But to answer the original 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 from the Monitoring the Future study, browse an overview of the results.

Want to see results from the 2016 Monitoring the Future study? Check out the blog post, “Fewer Teens Are Smoking and Drinking.”

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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