Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: How Many Teens Use Drugs?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

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.”

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


It's so disgusting isn't it.
actuslly its really addicting to stop you try but your friends and people incoured you and you can get hoked on them really fast again it's so hard to get rid of this addicition of cocoaine.i recommed you to not try it at all
actually* it's* encourage* hooked* cocaine* recommend*
That's weird my da used to smoke marijuana but he never got addicted (by the way he was 21 when he did this) now he is 38
Ha stay in school and don't do drugs
Drugs are used to get out of stress for some teens. I know I am a teen
To get out of stress you should drink tea and honey. Peppermint is the best.
ha yah right from a teen at Cincinnatus
another reason teens might do drugs is because they might not feel loved or apreciated i have a few friends going through that
marijuana is good for you man don't be hatin man
No, it is not.
Though that may be true, it's not nearly as bad as other drugs are for you. To be honest, I feel that the positives that marijuana gives outweigh all the negatives, if any, that come with smoking it.
I disagree. I don't see any benefits, and doing it could get you hooked on it and other, worse drugs. Not to mention the effects that it could have on you now AND later in your life.
yes it is.
no its not and if you think medical marijuana is different its not marijuana decreases your bone density, lowers your sperm count,and if you're a woman is can deform your baby and might not live,
I feel bad fro these kids, they were obviously influenced to do it by someone.
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]
There are many people use alot of drugs
ur right, my mom uses spice. im really hurt cuz she wont get help:(
awe are you okay ?!
talk to her about joining narchotics anatomy class to get help on trying to stop doing drugs.
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
not all teens do
don't let them full you they do they just say they don't it always works
not all teens do drugs or drink some don't
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.
why do people even do drugs its stupid yes I know that some people think that its cool but it wont be very cool when you have a crush on some one and they say no because you do drugs and you look so gross because you do drugs I should know my friends used to do drugs and she look disgusting she did drugs to get her mind off of her ex boyfriends off of the abuse that she has to deal with at home and how she gets bullied and no one wants to help her and I seen the way that she ended up after all of the drugs that she did. And she was most certainly not the girl that I used to know she was sooo skinny worried about everything that happened around her and most of the time she scared me and I refused to come or be around her she always smelt like drugs and she refused to stop so I told her It was me or the drugs a little while after that she went to a recovery center and now she is clean and I am sooo happy to have my best friend back. every now and agine she is tempted to go back to doing drugs but then she looks back to what her past was and she realizes that it was a bad decision and she regrets it to this day. well thanks for reading bye and remember if you do drugs you should stop because they will tear your life apart and you cant get back as much as you had.
there are also 9th graders that have tried drugs don't skip a grade
there are also 9th graders that have tried drugs don't skip a grade

You're right, Shane Tinney, 9th graders try drugs too.  The Monitoring the Future study asks 8th, 10th, and 12th graders about their opinions and experiences with drug abuse every year because it  represents distinct age groups among teenagers.  The idea is that 8th and 9th graders are much more alike than 8th and 10th graders.  And since we conduct the survey every year, all of the 9th graders will be asked about their drug use when they hit 10th grade.  

don't forget 11
Drugs are bad